Friday, March 02, 2007

Conservative Suicide

According to recent polls, George W. Bush retains the support of just over a third of Americans. Given the disastrous policy decisions he has made abroad, most obviously in Iraq, and his domestic policy of national suicide (open borders), his dismal showing among Democrats and independents is understandable. What defies explanation is Bush's continuing strong (if somewhat diminished) level of support from self-described Republicans and conservatives.

The Bush administraton has gone out of its way to betray all of the major ideological positions embraced by conservatism. It has tolerated the collapse of America's borders (and promotes amnesty for the millions of invaders who have taken advantage of that weakness); it launched a ruinous, unprovoked war in Iraq, based largely on delusional, Wilsonian ideals about spreading democracy, all of which have been demonstrated false; and it created and pushed through Congress the prescription drug benefits bill, which conjured into existence a brand new entitlement to be financed by a treasury already emptied by the same administration's reckless spending.

The prescription drug benefits debacle should have sent conservatives running for the hills; should have caused them to demand impeachment; or at least call the administration on the carpet. But they didn't. They grinned, made excuses, and looked the other way while the administration gleefully lobbed a grenade into America's already teetering public finances. And when the president's original budget projection for the plan were shown to be fantasy - when the plan's expected costs doubled, then tripled - conservatives closed their eyes and let the neocons continue to lull them to sleep with dreams of a worldwide empire of democracy.

Unfortunately, reality remains no matter how hard one tries to ignore it. The real costs of the prescription drug benefits plan, the spawn of an allegedly-conservative, republican administration, is now becoming apparent in Washington. And the outlook isn't good.

U.S. Comptroller General David Walker says Medicare — barring vast reform to the program and the nation's healthcare system — is already on course to possibly bankrupt the treasury and adding the prescription bill just makes the situation worse.

Walker talks to 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft this Sunday, March 4, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"The prescription drug bill is probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s," says Walker, "because we promise way more than we can afford to keep."

He argues that the federal government would need to have $8 trillion today, invested at treasury rates, to cover the gap between what the program is expected to take in and what it is expected to cost in the next 75 years — and that is in addition to more than $20 trillion that will be needed to pay for other parts of Medicare.

"We can't afford to keep the promises we've already made, much less to be piling on top of them," he tells Kroft.

But, hey, why not destroy future generations with unpayable debts in order to win a few extra votes today? That's the Bush-Rove way! Leave the future to itself. Everything will work out fine. GOD is on OUR side, right. He'll make it all better.

This incredibly lazy, intellectually vapid line of thinking explains the prescription drug debacle. It explains the President's continuing push for amnesty for illegal aliens. And it explains the escalating trainwreck of America's foreign policy.

What it doesn't explain is why conservative haven't rebelled sooner, or more forcefully against the administration's disastrous policies. Surely, the reaction to 9/11 is part of it. A tendency to excuse the behavior of someone you think is on your side is also partially to blame - especially when that person is perceived to be under unyielding attack by your enemies. But at some point, conservatives need to see that personal allegiance to Bush and his neocon acolytes is corroding the very intellectual framework of conservatism. Unfortunately, it may already be too late.