Libertarians Right to Object To Characterization of Republicans As Against Government

In several recent speeches, including at Carnegie Mellon University and at The University of Michigan, Barack Obama framed his arguments as a debate over the needs for government actions versus the anti-government Republicans. This is a fair characterization if we are to look at the rhetoric of the Republicans, but not their actual policies. Reason has legitimate reason to complain that the Republicans do not share their libertarian beliefs.

I have pointed out in several previous posts how the Republicans, despite their rhetoric, are really the party of big government. Reason provides some additional arguments to back this up:

Keep in mind, the president is talking specifically here not about libertarian freakazoids who want to privatize their own grandmothers, but about governing Republicans. You know, the gang who, “during the first half of 2001 and all of the 2003-07 period maintained full control of both the White House and Congress,” during which time they “increased total spending by more than 20 percent, an average of 5 percent a year,” jacking up “both nondefense spending and mandatory programs enormously.” How in the hell can you spend so much money on “more tax breaks for the wealthy and fewer rules for corporations”? Which one of those two answers (the only ones the GOP has, remember) best describes No Child Left Behind, Sarbanes-Oxley, or Medicare Part D? If Bush was really all about “fewer rules for corporations,” how was it that he managed to be “the biggest regulator since Nixon“? (And do click on those links, they are filled with things like facts and numbers.)

Republicans promote big government at least as much as the Democrats. The difference is that Republican big government tends to be less competent in areas where we want government. Republican big government tends to stress different priorities such as invading other countries, torture, redistributing wealth to the ultra-wealthy, or imposing the views of the religious right upon others.

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