Cato Institute | Veronique de Rugy
President Bush may be repeating the sins of his father. Although elected on a Reaganesque, tax-cutting platform, the White House has veered to the left. President Bush has signed a bill to regulate political speech, issued protectionist taxes on imported steel and lumber, backed big-spending education and farm bills, and endorsed massive new entitlements for mental health care and prescription drugs. When the numbers are added up, in fact, it looks like President Bush is less conservative than President Clinton.
It makes little sense to discourage one’s core supporters prior to a mid-term election. Yet that is the result when a Republican president expands government, which Bush is doing. Also, academic research on voting patterns shows that a president is most likely to get re-elected if voters are enjoying an increase in disposable income. Yet making government bigger is not a recipe for economic growth. After all, there is a reason why Hong Kong grows so fast and France is an economic basket case. But you can’t tell that to the Bush administration.