I found David Brook's column earlier this week on the morality of debt particularly cogent. I do think that the management of one's own finances is an important facet of personal morality. I grew up in a home that always had to watch the budget very closely, and as I grew up, I always felt that financial responsibility was a core conservative value. And, although countries and governments obviously have more lee-way than individuals over the long run, I also regard any government that spends more than it taxes over an economic cycle to be immoral.
That's why I've come to see the Republican party as a deeply corrosive force with respect to public morality. It perpetuates the idea that debt - and constantly increasing debt - is a virtue. Over the last seven years, as I often repeat, the Bush Republicans have added $32 trillion to the unfunded liabilities that future generations have to pay. After instituting torture, this is easily the most grotesquely immoral act of the current administration and Congress. It is thieving from the next generation. Reagan bears a burden of responsibility in this, but Bush II has combined the ideology of supply-side fantasy with trust-fund rich kid insouciance. I want government small and I want it solvent. And, to my mind, that is the core conservative position - which is why the current Republicans are not just un-conservative; they are the enemy of conservatism.
All this is a preamble to a pettier matter. Contrast the two candidates on their personal fiscal morality. Obama, who grew up on food stamps and foreswore a lucrative corporate law career, "reported no liabilities in his annual financial disclosures." McCain, who married an heiress worth millions, has more than $100,000 in credit card debt:
The presidential candidate and his wife Cindy reported piling up debt on a charge card between $10,000 and $15,000. His wife’s solo charge card has between $100,000 and $250,000 in debt to American Express. Another charge card with American Express, this one for a “dependent child,” is carrying debt in the range of $15,000 and $50,000.
More saliently, McCain's tax and spending proposals add far more to the federal deficit than Obama's. After the massive debt racked up in the last eight years, both McCain and Obama unforgivably want to add more. But McCain is the worst. Sometimes, personal morality is a sign of public morality, isn't it?
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