The Santorum “big government conservative” debate continues

posted at 11:00 am on January 7, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

I seem to remember a time when “big government” and “conservatism” were pretty much mutually exclusive phrases. But the lines have been blurring on that for a long time now, a point which came to light significantly during the administration of George W. Bush with the expansion of Medicare and NCLB. This distracted and disillusioned many conservatives, along with the accelerated rate of spending. (It was nowhere near the current pace, obviously, but still enough to put many fiscal conservatives off their feed.)

At the Daily Caller, Matt Lewis highlights this debate and how it has swung the spotlight onto Rick Santorum. An unlikely pair of debaters are squaring off on the subject, too. In this case it’s Rush Limbaugh and Erick Erickson. First up… Limbaugh.

Now there’s a mantra — there’s mantra out there — and it’s even now spread to CBS News: “Will Santorum’s big government conservatism resonate?” It’s everywhere, folks. “Santorum’s big government conservatism.” Have you ever heard “big government conservatism” associated with Rick Santorum before today? Have you? Have you?

Lewis responds that yes, in fact, he has heard it before. And it’s not in terms of wanting the government to take a hand in matters such as pro-life issues or immigration. It’s about spending and entitlement programs, as I noted above. The response from Erickson:

I’m rather tired of all the people who don’t like Romney trying to claim Rick Santorum is not a big government conservative, or not a pro-life statist. I would support him before I would support Romney too, but I have no intention of giving up ideological and intellectual consistency in the name of beating Mitt Romney.

Rick Santorum is a pro-life statist. He is. You will have to deal with it. He is a big government conservative. Santorum is right on social issues, but has never let his love of social issues stand in the way of the creeping expansion of the welfare state. In fact, he has been complicit in the expansion of the welfare state.

I think the main point of contention here is precisely how we are to define “big government.” (Which, for some reason, always summons up visions of Bill Clinton giving a speech for me.) We can debate the dollars and cents at the bottom of the column, but that’s a somewhat different argument than asking what the proper role of the federal government is. Immigration and national security are obviously the province of Washington. (Current appearances to the contrary not withstanding.) But the expansion of entitlement programs is going to be a hard sell with conservatives as not being a big government position.

Of course, all of this amounts to the type of sniping and attacks you’d expect to see during the primary season. It’s also not something that’s likely to hurt Santorum much if he manages to win the nomination, as those aren’t positions that are going to scare off moderates and independents.


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One CANNOT be for limited government…And believe that government has/should have/or will have more power to dig its boney-claws into our lives, via various ‘social issues’. (Once again, I’m NOT speaking about the protection of life, at ALL ages. That IS NOT a ‘social issue’. Don’t buy the argument that it is. Do your own thinking, for pete’s sake!)

Of course we can and that’s what seperates social conservatives from the eco cons and libertarians…while we socialcons are deeply concerned about government overspending and its impact on this and future generations we are just as concerned that society and culture are going to hell in a handbasket and it is government’s responsibility to set a tone and a course that promotes the time tested values that made this country great. Yes life is important…the most important issue, but so is the protection of the traditional family structure and the establishment of cultural norms that celebrate and promote American exceptionalism…the liberatarian view that anyone should be allowed to do whatever, whenever will never be reconciled with the view that government does have a vital role in protecting certain important cultural structures.

ironmarshal on January 7, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Nah I fail to see how Republicans having a contested primary helps Obama, especially since they are also criticizing Obama while doing it.

Dr. Tesla on January 7, 2012 at 7:41 PM
I agree with you that the contested Republican primary does not hurt Obama, but I think the time wasted on the social issues does. Was your 7:41 pm comment meant to address that issue?

GaltBlvnAtty on January 7, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Dr. Tesla:
I have written confusedly. I meant to say that I think that time spent by Republicans in this election cycle on social issues helps Obama.

GaltBlvnAtty on January 7, 2012 at 7:57 PM

I don’t see how time talking about issues is wasted time.

A lot of voters are interested in those issues. Simply because you are not does not mean it’s time wasted. You have sort of a self absorbed view of things.

Republicans that want to wish social issues away are wasting time by constantly harping on that pipe dream.

Dr. Tesla on January 7, 2012 at 7:59 PM

How does it help Obama, since Obama is weak on social issues?

How do you define social issues? Which issues are included under that banner?

Dr. Tesla on January 7, 2012 at 8:00 PM

While everyone is arguing Santy vs Perry here, can the Perry supporters agree that if Perry drops out after SC that they will support Santorum over Mittens?

LevinFan on January 7, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Rick Santorum loves big government, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Prescription entitlements, voted against right-to-work, etc. Don’t vote for a big-government guy!

Vote Ron Paul for actual Small Government.

NewLiberty on January 7, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Dr. Tesla on January 7, 2012 at 7:59 PM

You get personal, I sign off.

GaltBlvnAtty on January 7, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Rick Santorum loves big government, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Prescription entitlements, voted against right-to-work, etc. Don’t vote for a big-government guy!

Vote Ron Paul for actual Small Government.

I second that.

Puma for Life on January 7, 2012 at 8:23 PM

“If Governor Perry is given the opportunity to accomplish for our country what he has accomplished in Texas, there may be hope that we step back from the brink of European socialism.”

I couldn’t agree more. According to the latest unemployment figures, the national unemployment rate is 8.5%, while the unemployment rate in Texas is a dandy 8.4%

Obama has already accomplished what Perry accomplished in Texas?

Hey, wait a minute! According to the Perrykrishnas, that would mean that the U.S. economy is “robust” and “thriving.”

Think I’ll go build a factory now that the national economy has matched that of Texas.

Must be “Recovery Winter.” Thank you, President Messiah.

Horace on January 7, 2012 at 8:25 PM

while we socialcons are deeply concerned about government overspending and its impact on this and future generations we are just as concerned that society and culture are going to hell in a handbasket and it is government’s responsibility to set a tone and a course that promotes the time tested values that made this country great.

ironmarshal on January 7, 2012 at 7:41 PM

And while you can CLAIM that is the case, the fact is, it is NOT the case. Nowhere in the Constitution does it give the government free reign to experiment however it sees fit to try and shape the culture to establish one kind of values over another.

I don’t disagree that values are a problem with society in this country, but it is decidedly NOT the government’s job to fix it, let alone to do so with money we don’t have for the things the federal government is SUPPOSED to be doing.

deadrody on January 7, 2012 at 11:11 PM

(Current appearances to the contrary not withstanding.) But the expansion of entitlement programs is going to be a hard sell with conservatives as not being a big government position.

It is a sign of the current insanity in Republican circles that someone who went along with the Bush agenda, after a history of being a budget hawk, it being judged an insufficient financial conservative in comparison to the architect of Obamacare, the greatest expansion of government in generations.

If you are for limited government, at this point Santorum is the only choice.

18-1 on January 8, 2012 at 1:11 AM

Vote Ron Paul for actual Small Government and doing something about the Jew bankers

FTFY

18-1 on January 8, 2012 at 1:12 AM

while we socialcons are deeply concerned about government overspending and its impact on this and future generations we are just as concerned that society and culture are going to hell in a handbasket and it is government’s responsibility to set a tone and a course that promotes the time tested values that made this country great.
ironmarshal on January 7, 2012 at 7:41 PM

That means your not a limited government supporter, nor are you a support of the constitution, your just like liberal, just the flip side of the coin meaning you support limits on government and following the constitution only when if fits how feel “America” should be morally.

No where in the constitution gives you, or the government the authority to do that, but you think your world-view is better than everyone else’s and will impose it on everyone if they like it or not

the_ancient on January 8, 2012 at 11:16 AM

If you are for limited government, at this point Santorum is the only choice.

18-1 on January 8, 2012 at 1:11 AM

If your for LIMITED Government, Ron Paul is your only Choice

If you for a Strong Central Conservative government then Santorum is your choice

Conservative != Limited

the_ancient on January 8, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Santorum worked with Hillary Clinton to make video games less violent, which puts the chances of me voting for him in the negative. I am a lifelong PA resident. He lost to a no-name man (who is still a no name despite five years in the Senate) by a wide margin in 2006. What makes anyone think he can beat Obama?

BigWillieStyles on January 8, 2012 at 12:18 PM

How can Santorum be the man on taxes, and tax cuts, and a statist at the same time?

Yes, he voted for some bad bills, but a statist is somebody who is going to support raising your taxes. That’s the first power of government that a statist abuses. Santorum opposed tax hikes and supported tax cuts.

That’s not a statist.

Dr. Tesla on January 7, 2012 at 7:11 PM

In that case, Obama isn’t a statist either.

Here’s a very simple truth that shall guide your understanding of public economics for the rest of your life: the only acceptable metric for the level of taxation is the level of spending.

Someone who raises spending is actually raising taxes, even if he’s cutting tax rates.

In fact, that type of Santorum-Obama statist is even worse and more dangerous than a typical tax-and-spend socialist as he’s being deceitful by fooling the less sophisticated folks like yourself into thinking he isn’t being a statist or raising taxes and by sending the bill to those who can’t vote him out of office so are pretty much defenseless.

joana on January 8, 2012 at 1:02 PM

That means your not a limited government supporter, nor are you a support of the constitution, your just like liberal, just the flip side of the coin meaning you support limits on government and following the constitution only when if fits how feel “America” should be morally.

No where in the constitution gives you, or the government the authority to do that, but you think your world-view is better than everyone else’s and will impose it on everyone if they like it or not

the_ancient

I agree with that, I have said before that Social Conservatives and Social Liberals, share a belief in common that government should be telling people how to live their lives.

Individual freedom and limited government, are the true values that made this country great. This nanny state idea that some on the left and right share, is certainly not something that the US was founded on.

I do not need the government to tell me how to live and to give me values, I can do that on my own just fine.

firepilot on January 8, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Go Perry go!

Pragmatic on January 9, 2012 at 8:41 AM

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