Jonathan Chait has a challenge for Republicans who have been complaining that increased government spending in recent years is a betrayal of core conservative principles. Will they "recommit to smaller government" and propose "rolling back the Bush spending hikes"?:
The Republicans' curse -- they're always right, by Jonathan Chait, Commentary, LA Times: ...No sooner had this year's election ended than nearly every conservative emerged to declare that Republicans had been defeated for betraying the One True Faith. Republicans, George Will wrote, "were punished not for pursuing but for forgetting conservatism." John McCain ... [said] they "lost their way" by supporting big government. ...
When conservatives try to get ... specific about why voters turned against them, their explanations make ...[little] sense. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a leader among conservatives in the House, suggested that his party apologize to voters like this: "We've overspent, badly, and it was offensive to you as well as our conservative principles."
But exactly how have Republicans overspent? The largest spending increases under Bush, by far, have come in defense and homeland security, which conservatives support. The next biggest item is the Medicare bill. Horribly designed though it was, you can't say it was unpopular. ...
If Republicans really want to recommit to smaller government, they can run on a simple platform of rolling back the Bush spending hikes. Go ahead, Republicans, I dare you: Promise to slash the Pentagon, eliminate homeland security and take away everybody's Medicare drug coverage.
Of course, they won't really do that. ... They'll never reduce government to the size they'd like, but they're too fanatical to admit that they can't.
Instead of more cut taxes and spend policies supported by wishful thinking like we've seen recently, I'd settle, as a start, for a rational political conversation first about our policy objectives, and then about the alternatives and tradeoffs we face in achieving them. [I'll save you the trouble: Rational political conversation? Yeah right.]