by David Stockman, Lew Rockwell:
There have been few politicians in modern times who have done more to undermine personal liberty, capitalist prosperity, small government and especially world peace than the Cheney Clan. So upon Liz Cheney’s ouster from the #3 job in the US House GOP hierarchy, we say: Good riddance!
And, no, we don’t begrudge her vote to impeach the Donald. The man is such an insufferable bully-boy and megalomaniac that upon his richly deserved exile from Washington her “yes” vote amounted to little more than a slightly offensive Bronx cheer.
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But what is profoundly offensive about the Cheneys is their central role in high-jacking the Republican Party in behalf of the demented worldview of a small priesthood of neocon intellectuals. The latter have turned the Warfare State of the now defunct cold war with the Soviet Union into a globe-spanning imperialist monster that has bled America dry fiscally and unleashed unjustified destruction and mayhem all around the planet in a manner that would have put even Imperial Rome to shame.
The immorality, stupidity and monumental fiscal waste of the neocon Forever Wars is bad enough, but actually there is something even more lamentable.
To wit, in today’s world, prosperity and liberty depend more than ever on fiscal rectitude and a conservative party that fights relentlessly and effectively to uphold it. Otherwise, the inherent self-aggrandizing proclivities of the state and the pork-barrel propensities of elected politicians will mushroom unchecked.
Yet impairment of the fiscally conservative party was the basic and original reason why the Reagan Revolution failed. It was hard enough to get elected GOP legislators to walk the plank in behalf of canceling popular Washington handouts or curtailing the entitlement benefits of up to 45% of the public that gets checks directly or indirectly from Uncle Sam. And that was even with the tailwind of a charismatic communicator in the Oval Office.
But when they were asked to face the slings and arrows of domestic interest groups and beneficiaries enraged by the Gipper’s budget cuts while simultaneously voting for massive defense increases even larger than the domestic cuts, well, they just didn’t.
After the early 1981 round of modest spending cuts it was all over except the shouting because the incipient neocons of the day convinced Reagan that the economically and industrially collapsing Soviet Union was still striving for world domination and first strike nuclear capacity, when both propositions amounted to exaggerations, lies and self-serving propaganda of the military industrial complex.
As a result, Reagan essentially threw in the towel on domestic spending retrenchment to save his huge and wholly unnecessary defense buildup. In turn, that meant that virtually no domestic programs of material import were abolished, thereby insuring that the programs modestly cut in 1981 could live for another day and an eventual recovery and make-whole, which is what actually happened.
So when the defense budget kept rising and some of the domestic cuts just got pushed back to state and local governments, the total spending share of GDP barely missed a beat during the Reagan era. In fact, the government spending share of GDP ended higher than during any previous presidential term since WWII.
Total Government Spending Share of GDP:
- Eisenhower 1960: 27.5%;
- Kennedy-Johnson 1968: 30.7%;
- Nixon-Ford 1976: 32.9%;
- Carter 1980: 32.7;
- Reagan 1988: 33.7%
Still, contrary to neocon revisionism, the Reagan defense buildup did not cause the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was the inherent impossibility of communist dictatorship and central planning that caused its economy to fail, the morale of its people to wither and its military to run out of resources.
This not only put the lie to the Reagan defense buildup, but, more importantly, offered the Republican party a historic reprieve. It could now jettison its embrace of Big Government on the Pentagon side of the Potomac and its politically motivated acquiescence to the Welfare State to assure funding for the the Warfare State.