- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 31, 2004

With the Democratic Convention over and John F. Kerry nominated, conservatives can ask if the world’s oldest party offers them an alternative to the reckless domestic government spending habits set by Republicans during the last four years. Unfortunately, the short answer is no.

From Sen. Kerry himself, to tort lawyer John Edwards, to Bill Clinton, to Jimmy Carter (he really is bitter, is he not?), to blustery Bill Clinton, the message was more government to solve every problem imaginable — from raising one’s children, to finding a job, to taking care of one’s health, to receiving an education, to cleaning one’s neighborhood. Hillary Clinton made the message explicit, hectoring her global village children regarding how Democrats would care for their every need.

The serious part of the festivities, the platform, spelled it out. George Bush’s increase in national education spending, the largest since the program’s inception, wasn’t enough. The Democrats want to raise elementary spending at least $27 billion but, of course, spend nothing on educational vouchers for those who need to escape the failed government monopoly school system. And Democrats want the same priority for college education spending, at least $25 billion more yearly.

The Republican $500 billion increase in yearly health spending for seniors was insufficient too and Democrats propose a “real” prescription drug benefit, costing billions more. Democrats want more health spending for children, low-income adults, and (through catastrophic coverage) middle-income adults too — pretty much everyone. While there are some positive aspects of the Kerry health program, it will cost at least $653 (and probably $1 trillion). It would bar any Medicare or Social Security privatization to restore some fiscal sanity (which they also promise, somehow) to these bankruptcy-headed programs.

To pay for this, Democrats want to rescind the Bush tax cuts for people earning more than $200,000 per year, which might bring in $80 billion yearly, hardly a dent in the proposed spending. They promise jobs but also want to raise the minimum wage and increase environmental regulations economists say tend to restrict job creation.

The platform supports new gun controls, abortion and homosexual rights, the right for stem cell research, and citizenship to all illegals who can pass background checks.

It supports “some” provisions of the Patriot Act but calls for unspecified revisions of others. It even pledges to give all Americans the right to Internet access. What else could the Democrats possibly do for us?

Democrats do not even give solace to critics of the Iraq war. The platform courageously sits on the fence, saying, “People of good will disagree about whether America should have gone to war.” The most the Democrats can muster is to say the U.S. should have relied more upon the United Nations and the “international community” and done more research beforehand.

The platform, however, supports an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops to stabilize the Middle East, precisely the position that drew the nation too deeply into administering Iraq in the first place. This represents a pro-Iraq troop presence exceeding the Bush administration commitment, which promises withdrawal as soon as possible.

Those who want an exit from Iraq anytime soon cannot look to a President Kerry. Finally, Democrats will enforce trade laws to the letter (that is, help unions) and will fight terrorism, with which no one could disagree.

According to Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, spending would rise $2 trillion over 10 years if Democrats prevailed. It is hard to believe the most disheartened conservative could find solace in this platform. Even the spendthrift Republicans in Congress could not match this wish list or convention promise. If they can, we shall soon see their platform and know the worst.

Donald Devine, former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is chairman of the Committee for a Conservative Platform and editor of ConservativeBattleline.com

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