The Final Bush Legacy


It's great to see conservatives, liberated from the Bush-Cheney years, actually getting upset about massive government spending. How long has it been now? I even saw a post at NRO that worried about interest payment on the debt! Yes: it only took them eight years to worry about that one.

Of course, I suspect they're more right than wrong. I don't see how the massive spending envisaged from 2010 - 2012 is a counter-cyclical anti-recession tool. I'm less worried about infrastructure spending and its waste in the next year and a half than about broad structural increases on social spending from 2010 on. I'd like the GOP to make these points more powerfully than they have; and with any luck, Obma will listen to enough of their legitimate concerns to temper the package somewhat. If you haven't read this excellent post by Jim Manzi, take a second now.

But one has to say: the Democrats won the last election. The Bush Republicans legitimized massive spending and the role of government as a kind of super-nanny for the working poor for eight years. They really don't have any serious standing to cavil now - and calling for more tax cuts, even for the working poor, rings hollow as debt balloons.

This is Bush's final legacy, and some of us saw it coming years ago: the creation of a massive social welfare state in America, with the potential of entrenching liberalism for generations. This is Bush's achievement more than Obama's. And without Bush, none of it would be thinkable. The only realistic hope is to leverage this danger into real entitlement reform later this year. McCain?