I used to believe that the Democrats sought to expand government because of a philosophical affinity for socialism and social spending. Tonight, after watching the President’s Grand Central Plan for the Redevelopment of the Gulf Coast, I realized that the old collectivist philosophies were just excuses for justifying and celebrating what they wanted to do anyway: take credit through taking control. The real motivation to spend was simply that they were the party in power and could therefore take credit for the spending. Every dollar spent ingratiated voters and advertised the party.
Likewise, the party out of power is outflanked and out-bribed by government spending, since the opposing party will receive credit for it. So they have a natural affinity for fiscal restraint and “caution.”
One of the more remarkable and transparent events of the last few years has been watching Democrats caution America about Government spending. One of the more depressing events I have ever witnessed is the growth of spending under George W. Bush. Government has grown faster under Bush than it ever did under Clinton. Republicans write the budget and it is huge. There is no bridge too useless, no road too isolated, no constituency too self-interested not be funded at an increased rate in every budget.
Republicans once fought to reduce the size of government and restore power — which is manifested in money — to the people that generated it. Now they fight for a community swimming pool or a fish hatchery or one more lane on a suburban interstate.
Why? Because they can now take credit for it.