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The Big Government Four: Bush, Rubio, Huckabee and Kasich

Conservatives looking at the field for tonight’s Fox News debate will wonder how almost half the field in a debate among “conservatives” can consist of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee and John Kasich all of whom should be considered to be Big Government Republicans.

Marco RubioAnd let’s make no mistake about it, the dividing line between the conservative “traditional values” grassroots base of the GOP and its more secular elite that has often separated the Republican primary field won’t hold in the 2016 primaries – what will likely define candidates as “conservatives” this cycle is their record on the growth of government.

Of the four, Governor Huckabee may have the greatest claim on social conservative voters. A one-time Baptist minister, Huckabee has been a reliable voice for the social conservative point of view and traditional family values in his post-political stint on FOX News.

Except that neither Jeb Bush, nor Marco Rubio, nor John Kasich are likely to have problems similarly defining themselves as social conservatives or supporters of traditional family values.

What separates these four from the Republican base is their willingness to be the tax collector for the welfare state and their reliance on government to address matters that limited government constitutional conservatives prefer to allow the market and individual free will to decide.

As Governor of Arkansas, Huckabee dramatically increased state spending. During his two-term tenure, spending increased by more than 65 percent — at three times the rate of inflation.*

On Jeb Bush’s watch Florida state spending ballooned by 52 percent, from $48.6 billion in 1999 to $73.9 billion in 2006.**And state expenditures per capita rose from $2,809 in 1999, to $3,942 in fiscal year 2006-2007.

And guess who Jeb’s reliable do-boy in growing spending was while he was in the legislature and Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives? Marco Rubio.

As for John Kasich’s claims to be a fiscal hawk in Congress and as Governor of Ohio, our friends at the CATO Institute contend that “by any measure, spending is growing in Ohio. The question is by how much.”***

“Kasich seems to pick the data set that sheds the best light on him,” wrote Nicole Kaeding, a budget analyst for CATO, which awarded Kasich a D grade on his budget record for last year.***

CATO cites what is known as the general revenue fund, which includes money Ohio collects in state taxes as well as federal dollars for such programs as Medicaid, which provides health coverage for low-income people.

The state plans to spend $71.2 billion from its general revenue fund during the 2016-2017 budget cycle. That is substantially higher than the $52.5 billion in general revenue spending for the 2011-2012 spending years, which was Kasich’s first two-year budget.***

To be fair, if you look at Ohio’s all-funds budget, Kasich can accurately claim that overall state spending will increase by 2.1 percent between the 2016 and 2017 spending years. But even under the all-funds budget, state spending increased by 7.6 percent between 2015 and 2016.***

About the best you can say is that of the four, John Kasich travelled the road to fiscal perdition at a slightly slower pace than did his Big Government Republican colleagues.

While there are still some outliers in Republican politics who advocate the same kind of secularism that Democrats have long-embraced, social conservatives continue to hold sway in the Republican Party; even conservative boogeyman John McCain got the National Right to Life endorsement in 2008.

The 2016 Republican presidential primaries won’t be decided on the social conservative agenda. While they may tack and try to veil their positions, none of the top candidates who are running for the GOP nomination as of now will deviate significantly from reliable social conservative positions – at least until after the election.

The great fault line in American politics today is not between Republicans and Democrats, it is the divide in the Republican Party between the “ruling class” of Washington’s inside elite and what Angelo Codevilla called “the country class” of Americans who believe in the rule of law and limited constitutional government.

It is notable that of the top ten polling candidates in tonight’s debate four of them, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and arguably Scott Walker, have built their campaigns on fighting Big Government; which is why they appeal to “the country class” voters.

And four, Bush, Rubio, Kasich and Huckabee talk a good game, but the numbers just don’t bear-out their claims of being “fiscal conservtives.”

If Republicans want to win the White House in 2016 running four Big Government Republican candidates is a sure path to disaster. A Bush, Rubio, Kasich or Huckabee led ticket will drive grassroots limited government constitutional conservatives away from the GOP, perhaps forever.

*CATO Institute figures
**South Florida Sun-Sentinel figures
*** CATO Institute figures quoted in

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A "D" for a budget surplus?

When John Kasich took office in Ohio, the state was running a deficit and in serious trouble. He quickly put the state in the black. He has taken on unions as well, winning some and losing some, but fighting the fight.

While Bill Clinton takes credit for the balanced budgets during his term as president, Kasich was one of the key architects of the budget that forced the first government shutdown and balanced the budget. That's a real achievement. The balanced budget in Ohio is a real achievement. These are not pie-in-the-sky, "if I could have everything I ever wished for" dreams, which are the only things that seem to inspire conservatives. They are real achievements. I may not be happy with a lot of things, but running a candidate who is going to alienate swing voters... who decide EVERY election... is only going to make you feel warm and fuzzy until that night in November when the numbers come in on Hilary's side. Electing a president to do things a president can't do on his own is unrealistic. Look at what HAS been done.

Where does running a surplus earn a "D?"

listen to Mark Levin

Levin has Kasich's number and called out his budget that was a failure.

What about Trump? Santorum? Walker? Christie?

How is Trump not a member of the Big Government group? He's proposing higher taxes, and in the past has proposed the largest and most unprecedented tax in US history. He's in favor of the Kelo decision and government taking of land (what's more Big Government than that?!?), Canadian-style socialized medicine, the "stimulus" plan, protectionist trade policies (yes, the government telling you what goods and services to purchase is Big Government), and the list goes on.

How about Santorum? All one has to do is look at his own campaign literature ("50 Things You Didn't Know About Rick Santorum") to see him supporting raising the minimum wage and a whole host of other Big Government endeavors. Not to mention his open disdain for the limited government movement in the party.

As Governor of Wisconsin, sure, Walker has been good on unions, but spending and taxes are not his strong suit, and he's shifted towards Big Government immigration and business policy.

And then there's Chris Christie, who apparently doesn't believe in the concept of federalism.

RINO Offerings

The party is looking to change for the better, definition is needed and far les RINO intrusion into the promotion of good and decent law and conservative candidates with relevant thinking, adhering to a the party platform and unwilling to cross the fence to compromise the party positions...
I have been angered more than once by the RINO element and it's is time to push them and their special interest concerns out the door and get some plain speaking logic all can understand....