The Right Opinion

Wake Up, Socially Liberal Fiscal Conservatives

By Jonah Goldberg · Jan. 18, 2013

Dear Socially Liberal Fiscal Conservative Friend,

That's pretty toothy, so I'm going to call you Bob.

But whatever specific name you go by, Bob, you know who you are. You're the sort of person who says to his conservative friends or co-workers something like, “I would totally vote for Republicans if they could just give up on these crazy social issues.”

When you explain your votes for Barack Obama, you talk about how Republicans used to be much more moderate and focused on important things such as low taxes, fiscal discipline and balanced budgets.

When Colin Powell was on “Meet the Press” the other day, you nodded along as he lamented how the GOP has lost its way since the days when it was all about fiscal responsibility.

And, Bob, you think Republicans are acting crazy-pants on the debt ceiling. You don't really follow all of the details, but you can just tell that the GOP is being “extreme,” thanks to those wacky tea partiers.

So, Bob, as a “fiscal conservative,” what was so outrageous about trying to cut pork – Fisheries in Alaska! Massive subsidies for Amtrak! – from the Sandy disaster-relief bill? What was so nuts about looking for offsets to pay for it?

Bob, I'm going to be straight with you. I never had much respect for your political acumen before, but you're a sucker.

You're still spouting this nonsense about being fiscally conservative while insisting the GOP is the problem. You buy into media's anti-Republican hysteria no matter what the facts are. Heck, you even believe it when Obama suggests he's like an Eisenhower Republican.

Well, let's talk about Eisenhower, your kind of Republican. Did you know that in his famous farewell address he warned about the debt? “We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage,” he said. “We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Bob, we are that insolvent phantom, you feckless, gormless clod. The year Eisenhower delivered that speech, U.S. debt was roughly half our GDP. But that was when we were still paying off WWII (not to mention things like the Marshall Plan), and the defense budget comprised more than half the U.S. budget (today it's a fifth and falling). Now, the debt is bigger than our GDP. Gross Domestic Product is barely $15 trillion. The national debt is over $16 trillion and climbing – fast. The country isn't going broke, Bob, it is broke.

When George W. Bush added nearly $5 trillion in national debt in two terms you were scandalized. When Obama added more than that in one term, you yawned. When, in 2006, then-Sen. Obama condemned Bush's failure of leadership and vowed to vote against raising the debt ceiling, you thought him a statesman. Obama, who wants to borrow trillions more, now admits that was purely a “political vote.”

Yet when Republicans actually have the courage of Obama's own convictions, you condemn them.

You nodded sagely when Obama said we needed a “balanced approach” to cut the deficit. He said he couldn't rein in entitlements without also raising taxes on “millionaires and billionaires.” Well, he won that fight. We raised taxes on millionaires and billionaires exactly as much as he wanted. We also raised the payroll tax on everyone.

Obama's response to getting the tax hikes he wanted? He says we still need a “balanced approach” – i.e., even more tax hikes.

Anyone who calls himself a fiscal conservative understands we have a spending problem. Do the math. A two-earner couple that retired in 2011 after making $89,000 per year will pay about $114,000 into Medicare over their lifetimes but will receive $355,000. When will it dawn on you that Obama doesn't think we have a spending problem? I ask because when he said “we don't have a spending problem,” it seemed to have no effect on you.

And yet you still think Paul Ryan's budget was “extreme.” Do you know when it balanced the budget? 2040. What's a non-extreme date to balance the budget, Bob? 2113?

Look, Bob, I don't want to go spelunking in that cranium of yours. I don't know why you think you're a fiscal conservative. The simple fact is, you're not. The green-eye-shaded Republicans you claim to miss would be scandalized by the mess we're in, largely thanks to voters like you, Bob. Eisenhower would take a flamethrower to today's Washington.

I don't expect you to vote Republican, never mind admit you're simply a liberal. But please stop preening about your fiscal conservatism, particularly as you condemn the GOP for not being fiscal conservatives, even when they are the only fiscal conservatives in town.

© 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Dwight D. Eisenhower-A God-fearing LEADER and POTUS 34! Eisenhower was a graduate of West Point military Academy. He had INTEGRITY, COURAGE, and---RESTRAINT. Did I mention HUMILITY?

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 6:48 AM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY said:

Bob (very much like former General Powell) should just admit to the fact that they're no longer members of the GOP, and go over to the dark side. At the very least it would be the most honest thing they've done in a long time.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 9:30 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

Lenin had a better name for this person, Useful Idiot!

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

It seems pretty likely that Bob is a RINO. I bet Bob is a Republican member of Congress.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

Folks like Bob talk Republican but always vote Democrat and then complain when the Democrats run wild. Then its all the Republicans fault for not being fiscally conservative. Useless idiots!

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

HP in KAlispell, MT said:

If you want Bob to read this, better post it on CNN or huffpo.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Rod in USA said:

What they mean by "fiscal conservative" is that it is OK to cut somebody else's budget, but nothing that might affect them. Or how about defense? They're bloated.... we can cut them back as they don't do anything for us anyway the baby killers.

Bringing our my inner liberal above: insane

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Syr Knight in Illinois said:

Speaking as a Socially liberal, fiscal conservative, I take mild offense at these words. I am not a D or R, but an I. Unfortunately, the real offense I take towards those words is that too many of my associates are exactly what you described, and not truly fiscally conservative. I agree 100% - the problem isn't in revenue, but in spending. Having looked quiet in-depth into the quagmire that is the federal budget, we *could* have a balanced budget now, but for the entitlement feelings our society possess. We have the income to sustain every Constitutionally required and authorized item, with change to spare...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:17 PM