Delegates Push for Spending Cuts

New York, N.Y.–Many delegates and leading Republicans attending the party’s national convention last week said they would like to see President Bush cut federal spending in a second term.

Most, however, carefully avoided criticizing Bush himself for the growth in government and several chalked up the administration’s failure to reign in spending to its preoccupation with the war on terrorism. But there was an unmistakable message conventioneers at Madison Square Garden wanted to send the President: “We want you to win, sir, but if you do, deal with the spending!”

“He’s got to do everything he can about reducing spending,” Nebraska Republican Chairman David Kramer told me. “It’s not easy to do this during wartime, I realize. But so far, the work on reducing domestic spending hasn’t even started.”

Omaha City Councilman Chuck Sigerson was tougher on the issue: “We believe in smaller government, so what’s our excuse for increasing the deficit, funding the Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts at higher levels than under Clinton?” “Bush should cut them both back in the next term. If both disappeared tomorrow, no one would miss them.”

“Reforming Social Security is one thing [Bush] has to do, and he doesn’t have much time,” warned North Dakota GOP Chairman Ken Carl.

Several delegates who spoke to HUMAN EVENTS expressed anger at Congress for increasing spending. “I’m really disappointed in this Congress–this Republican Congress–for increasing all that spending, which has been one thousand times worse for the private sector than Enron,” said Michael Der Manouel of Fresno, past treasurer of the California Republican Party. Der Manouel quickly added, however, that Bush “might have vetoed something.” “Hopefully, in a second term, the President will be a reformer and make some real structural changes in the spending process,” Der Manouel said.

The closest anyone I talked to came to criticizing Bush for permitting spending to increase so dramatically was former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R.-Tex.), now the head of Citizens for a Sound Economy. “I kept a vote to raise funding for Bill Clinton’s Americorps off the floor for more than a year,” Armey recalled. “Then, the speaker [Denny Hastert] told me ‘the President keeps bugging me about Americorps every Wednesday and asking when we’re going to get a vote on it.’ So we finally had a vote and Congress voted for the higher appropriations.”