By Tom Proebsting
June 11, 2006
How did it work? After Ronald Reagan took the office of presidency in 1981, he accomplished two of his objectives during his eight years in office: lower federal taxes and a beefed-up military. Good questions to ask are, Can all four points of the Republican agenda be realistically accomplished? Would the agenda do America any good?
One wonders what a president can realistically do to strengthen family values. Can he offer tax incentives for married couples who stay together? How does a commander-in-chief build up the family? By starting a constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage? Maybe family values are better left to the church or to psychologists. You cannot legislate morality.
Cutting taxes can cause citizens to like their leaders more. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush initiated broad tax cuts. However, the flip side is that it can cause lower revenues. America can always use more money for vital programs such as education, small business aid, farm subsidies, help for the poor and aged, alternative fuels research and other important issues. Most citizens say they like lower taxes, but howl when vital programs are cut.
Another problem with axing taxes and not cutting government programs is the possibility of causing a larger budget deficit. The resulting monetary gaps must be paid sometime, either by we the taxpayers, our children or our grandchildren. A huge budget deficit is not something we should leave to our descendants. Bankrupting our nation is not an option either.
Another point of the conservative agenda is a stronger military. With the demise of the Soviet Union, America is currently the only military superpower in the world and will be for many years to come. We need a military to protect our borders, but how big is big enough? How many weapons do we need? How many times should we be able to kill the enemy? When a weapon is referred to as "Shock & Awe" isn't it time to sit back and take stock of our nation's priorities?
A stronger military simply means a larger federal government, which should cancel out the final point of the conservative agenda, which is a smaller government. Other than building up the military, America also takes on the military's "unofficial partners," those who make up the military-industrial complex. The partners include big industry and the accompanying lobbyists. Finally, a bigger military may lead to higher taxes and/or a larger federal budget deficit.
The final point of the conservative agenda, smaller government, is thought by most to be impractical, if not, impossible to achieve. Ronald Reagan preached it and campaigned on it, but never accomplished it during his presidency.
Let's see if the numbers add up. The House passed a $2.7 trillion federal budget bill in May. Over half of it is for domestic entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. These programs are sacred cows and therefore, are permanent fixtures of our government.
We will spend over $441 billion this year on the military. Last year's interest on the debt totaled over $350 billion. Homeland Security, the president's pet project, will require about $32 billion this year. These budget items are untouchable.
So where can we trim spending? The rest of the money is earmarked to run the three branches of our government or for programs that the voters have asked for. These are programs or agencies that help citizens, such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, FEMA, FDIC, the Small Business Administration, the Veteran's Administration, and many more. If we pared down these programs, we may expect a backlash of sorts. And a one-term president for our commander-in-chief.
The conservative agenda cannot realistically work. Family values are not the business of government, lower taxes often reveal hidden prices, a larger military chokes off other worthwhile programs, and a smaller government is impractical, if not impossible to achieve. The conservative agenda appears to be a high-sounding promise to the voters, but not an agenda which can or should be delivered.
About: Tom Proebsting is a writer and a blogger.
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