JB: Republicans and small government

JB took the time to come up with a lot of data on this topic, but his comment went into spam because WordPress don’t like URLs in comments very much.

I just found it there buried with the typical spam. I am making his comment into a post to make up for the problem (and because it is interesting). Ralph Maughan

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JB writes:

I want to follow-up on the idea that voting Republican will mean small government.  It hasn’t for years (since before Reagan, anyway).  Republicans in recent times have actually grown the government as much or more than Democrats, and accrued greater debt to boot.  Given that both parties are now the parties of “big government,” (which I’m not

entirely happy about), the question is where would you like your government to place its priorities?  So let’s take a look at the Federal governments priorities under Bush, as indicated by the 2008 budget.  Here are the winners and losers:

First the winners:
1. War on Terror: +45.8%
2. State & International Programs: +22%
3. Veterans Affairs: +18.7%
4. Transportation:  +13.1%
5. Defense: +12.1%
6. National debt: +9.2%

Total spending on these programs: 974.1 Billion

Now the losers: (remember, inflation is around 3%)
1. Dept. of Labor: -9.4%
2. Dept. of Education: 0.0%
3. Dept. of Health & Human Services: +0.3%
4. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development: +1.4%
5. Unemployment/Welfare: +1.8%
6. Department of Interior: +2.9%

Total Spending on losing programs: 505.7 Billion (Note: 324 Billion is from unemployment and welfare).

So there you have it.  The Republicans (at least under Bush) emphasize war, military spending and international programs over health, education, housing, and the environment.  Not sure about any of you, but the federal government’s spending under Republicans does not reflect my priorities for this country.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget,_2008


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  1. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    I agree that Republicans have failed to live up to their promises of smaller government. The evidence is rock solid.

    On the other hand, I fail to see why people give Democrats so much credit on the environment. The Democrats have been in control of the House and Senate for 2 years.

    Have they used their legislative power to protect Yellowstone’s bison? Have they written legislation protecting America’s roadless areas? Have they used this opportunity to strengthen the ESA? Have the Democrats done anything to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? Have they re-written the 1872 mining laws? Have they reduced grazing on our public lands?

    Have they reduced clear-cutting of our National Forests? Have the Democrats funded efforts to reduce the impacts of invasive species? Have they fought to protect the West’s wolf populations, particularly the Mexican wolf? Have the Democrats finally reformed our fire-fighting policies? Have the Democrats funded the Everglades Restoration projects?

    Have they reformed the Fisheries Services to protect vanishing fish species? Have the Democrats made any effort to make sure the Grizzly’s food sources will carry them into the future? Have they passed Kyoto?

    NO. And I could go on and on and on…….

    What have the Democrats accomplished for the environment in the last 2 years they have controlled the legislative branches of Congress?


    Why do we only have 5 percent of our old-growth forests remaining? Because back in the 60’s and 70’s Congress established very high and unsustainable logging quotas for our National Forests. This persisted for decades and billions of board feet were logged each and every year.

    Who was the party in control of the House and Senate at the time?

    Yup, the Democrats. I simply don’t understand why people don’t realize that the Democrats have chosen the side of industry and business almost as frequently as the Republican party.

    The Democrats environmental credentials consist of talk and empty promises, for the most part. Are they better than Republicans? Yup.

    But by such a small margin that it won’t make much difference, really. Am I the only one that feels completely let down by these liars?

  2. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    “”On the other hand, I fail to see why people give Democrats so much credit on the environment. The Democrats have been in control of the House and Senate for 2 years.””

    The BIG reason why we need a new form of government is exactly this: when one party is in charge of congress but the other is in charge of the executive branch, nothing gets done. Having a parliament style allows a country to change direction swiftly (which is what I think we have to do in the next 4 years) because everyone is on the same page.

    We (I) can bitch and moan about McCain all we want but the fact is if he and Bush, err Palin, are elected with a democratic house and senate (a certainty) then they will accomplish nothing except maintain the same gridlock we have had for the past two years.

    We need a new form of government, ours does not work in times of extreme partisanship as we have had for the past 25 years.

  3. JB Avatar

    Thanks for digging this one out of the trash Ralph, though many some will wish it remained there. When I wrote the above, I was responding to the notion–expressed by some on the S. Palin post–that if you were for low taxes and small government, then you should vote Republican. There was a time when this was true, but that time was more than 30 years ago.

    Friends, the Republican party elite are LYING to you. Although they refer to themselves as the party of small government, nothing could be further from the truth:

    “Total real discretionary outlays …increase[d] about 35.8 percent under Bush (FY2001-06) while they increased by …11.9 percent under Reagan (FY1981-86). By contrast, they decreased by 16.5 under Nixon (FY1969-74) and by 8.2 percent under Clinton (FY1993-98).” (source: http://www.reason.com/news/show/34112.html).

    Republicans have become the second party of big government. That’s a shame because, until Reagan, Republican thriftiness helped keep Democratic spending at bay. Now, however, it is the Republicans who are doing the spending, and none more so than G.W. Bush.

    And what about the tax breaks they make so much of? They are paid for by borrowing against our future, accruing debt at an astonishing rate. “But wait,” you say. “Democrats are just as bad!” Actually, if you look at the national debt as a % of the Gross National Product (GDP), the national debt has increased under the watch of three presidents since Truman: Bush I, Reagan, and Bush II (source: http://zfacts.com/p/318.html). And who do you think will be called to pony-up when it comes time to pay the piper? Large corporations and businesses, or the middle class–assuming one still exists when the bills come due?

    So there you have it. The party that claims to be for small government and tax breaks lies about the former and borrows against future generations to provide the latter.

    As Garrison Keillor wrote:

    “The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.”

  4. kim kaiser Avatar

    where did you get your data,,,,huffington post?? or better yet,, msnbc

  5. timz Avatar

    I agree Smokeymtman. By being in power they may have prevented a few things from happening via threat (i.e. ANWR drilling) but they have have been Pro-active at nothing. And let’s not forget some of the loudest wolf-haters in the west are Democrats.

  6. JB Avatar


    Sources for the quotes in my second post were provided in the text. To answer your question, I cited neither the Huffington Post or MSNBC.

    The data cited in the first post is from the federal government, and can be found here: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/index.html.

    If you have figures that refute any of these claims, I would *love* to see them?

  7. JB Avatar

    Oh, and the Garrison Keillor piece–written in 2004–is available here: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/979/ (again, not the Huffington Post or MSNBC).

  8. Barb Avatar

    They’re cattle ranchers no doubt who think wild native predators have no place in the landscape and only their cattle have a “right” to be there.

    It’s criminal.

  9. JB Avatar


    You have to realize that part of the problem is that Dems haven’t had the 60+ votes needed to stop a filibuster. Were they to propose any truly meaningful environmental legislation it would simply be held up by the Reps. Moreover, they know that any pro-environmental legislation would MOST CERTAINLY be vetoed by Bush, requiring a 2/3 majority (which they don’t have) to override. Still, I’m also disappointed by the Democrats’ failure to speak out more on environmental issues beyond global warming.

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    JBs most right, IMO.

    The Democrats don’t have a working majority, merely a technical majority in the Senate. If Joe Lieberman decided to caucus with the Republicans, it would be a tie.

    On the other hand, the Democrats do control the agenda-setting process in the House, and they disappointed Democrats, and I think a lot of others by not seriously pushing for an impeachment of Bush beginning right off in 2007.

    Only a portion of the Republican base still likes Bush. Some people who are going to vote for McCain, hate Bush. During impeachment all kinds of things would have come out, like the “White House horrors” of the Nixon investigations way back in ’74.

    Like Bill Clinton’s impeachment, Bush probably would not have been removed from office, but the Democrats would have been set up better for the 2008 election which they thought would fall into their laps.

    The Democrats are never aggressive enough.

  11. Izabela Avatar

    They’re cattle ranchers no doubt who think wild native predators have no place in the landscape and only their cattle have a “right” to be there.
    It’s criminal.


    And to all this you have to add the newest campaign..Drill here..Drill Now…
    I hear some ads in Utah Radio KSL about how important it is to use Utah resoreces..drill it..
    soon we will see drilling in Arches…

  12. Barb Avatar

    Yes, their mantra is to take, take, take — take what you can, while you can — elk, caribou, deer, bears, wolves, oil, and more – until it’s gone.

  13. Barb Avatar

    People like to say “you’re wasting your vote if you vote 3rd party.”

    I fear more that we’re ‘wasting our vote’ if we vote Republican or Democrat!

    I mean, both of these parties have been in power for the last, how many years? And we can’t even get people access to proper health care?

    I did say access — not government administered health care.

  14. debbiz Avatar

    Ralph I agree with what you say about a working majority but still disagree. (Huh?) I think you still try and make the republicans filibuster or force a Bush veto. At least it’s on record you tried. I still think as I have posted here before, if you look at the polls environmental issues are usually way down the list of voter concerns. The politicians know it, on both sides of the aisle. As far as I know the Dems put forth little environmental legislation and rubber stamped Kempthornes nomination. And rather than investigating why Bush fired a few lawyers they should be investigating why the Interior Dept continually ignored science and its managers corrupted the system.

  15. timz Avatar

    Sorry that last post was mine, logged in as the wife. She can speak for herself 😉

  16. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Even if their legislation will be vetoed by Bush, the Democrats have an obligation to force Bush to go on record and veto their legislation.

    This would serve 2 purposes.

    1. It puts Bush on record, defines him, essentially highlighting the differences between the parties.

    2. It demonstrates to the supporters of the Democratic Party that it is working diligently for them.

    If the Democrats wrote legislation, and it was vetoed by Bush, then I would blame Bush for preventing the legislation from becoming law. As it is now, I can only blame the Democrats for not even writing the legislation to begin with.

    Ralph said “The Democrats are never aggressive enough.”

    I guess that’s the crux of the problem. The Democrats must be aggressive in defining the Republicans as out of touch, which is rather easy to accomplish, through legislation and floor votes.

    Isn’t that the stuff of effective campaign advertising and debating point? You really wouldn’t know the Democrats have control of the Senate and House’s political agenda, would you?

    Man, we can’t lose the White House this time. The Democrats gotta get it together.

  17. Barb Avatar

    Obama is being too nice — he’s got to take off his white gloves and get in there and FIGHT!

  18. Barb Avatar

    Obama is being too nice — he’s got to take off his white gloves and get in there and FIGHT!

    Expose the lies and hypocrisy of McCain-Palin ticket. Expose Palin’s bigoted, religious zealousness.

  19. JB Avatar


    Look, I agree with you completely. The Democrats have not been nearly aggressive enough. Unfortunately, with the exception of issues that garner national attention (e.g. global warming, energy), most people just are not that concerned with environmental issues. You have to remember that most of us–and our electoral votes–live a long way from the vast expanses of public land in the West that so many people on this blog cherish.

  20. Alan Gregory Avatar

    Nor mine, JB. And I saw a lot of financial waste during my Air Force career — and know of a lot of programs that have suffered for lack of support.

  21. SmokyMtMan Avatar


    Sure, environmental issues barely appear on any poll’s radar. However, the democrats should be writing legislation concerning the health of the military, deficit spending, the economy, alternative energy, bring back SCHIP as an issue, etc etc.

    The focus should not have been primarily on the environment. The Democrats have had 2 years to use their control of the legislative process to force Bush to veto popular bills.

    This would have further established Republicans as out of touch and given the democrats powerful messages to campaign on. SCHIP was the perfect model for this. It was hugely popular with the American people, and it hurt Bush badly when he vetoed it.

    But the democrats have squandered this opportunity by doing almost nothing.

    Reminds me of the old cliche “the Democrats never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

    This election is slowly slipping away from Obama. The Democrats probably figured they could simply gain the White House by saying Bush’s name over and over and over again.

    I have always felt that McCain was going to win, but I am equally as positive that Democrats will increase their majorities in the House and Senate.

    But they should have won all three branches this time.

  22. JB Avatar


    I hear you, but I’m a bit more optimistic about the election. Someone posted this link (http://www.electoral-vote.com/) the other day for the latest on how the electoral votes will play out based on polls. Yes, McCain has a slight lead nationally (at least according to some polls), but Obama still has a solid lead in electoral votes.

  23. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I like the way Obama is unflustered and on his message. He doesn’t appear rattled.

    I’m sure he is waiting a bit to see how the post-election plays out before he makes a strong statement beyond “we don’t need 4 more years of the Bush-McCain policies.”

    Will Palin implode or explode? Wait just a bit, is what he thinks.

    In terms of foreign policy I really like someone who isn’t all emotional and making decisions from the gut.

    When Russia took on Georgia recently, John McCain immediately declared “we’re all Georgians now.” Yeh right! And then the people find out the Russians did not march on Atlanta!

    When Bob Woodward wrote “Bush at War” back in 2002, during the period Woodward was gushing about these sturdy leaders, I was impressed how he said they really didn’t discuss things but decided and communicated with gestures, body language, grunts — by the gut.

    Before long I decided they sounded like a wolf pack. I was surprised I didn’t read that Bush and Rice were seen double scent marking, or Bush licking Cheney’s muzzle 😉 I would rather not have that kind of foreign policy decision making.

  24. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    “……..Bush and Rice were seen double scent marking, or Bush licking Cheney’s muzzle……”
    Oh but I think they do.

  25. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    Smoky’s last post is unfortunately dead-on. More unfortunately, Obama is in real trouble w/ the unfortunate disgraceful selection of the most unknown, inexperienced, and unqualified VP in recent memory. On paper, this race shouldn’t be close. Sadly, w/ old tactics of lying, smears and “the good ole hey vote 4 me, ‘I’m just like you’” replayed b4 our very eyes, you can’t “change” the majority’s ignorance, unfettered underlying bias/prejudice, and the inability to objectively assess the merits of a candidate and/or his/her ability to lead. Incredibly, Palin, who to date has only read telepromptered speeches prepared mostly by writers of the Bush machine, has sewed up the majority of the over-55 demographic and the so-called on-the-fence rural/non-city suburban housewives — plus it has given the excuse for those who will vote based on color an out by concluding that a vote for Palin (the first woman candidate) somehow eliminates their underlying prejudice – they can proudly tell their grandchildren they voted for the first elected woman VP – regardless of her qualifications. I understand a vote for the old McCain of 2000 but not a vote for the McCain who has selected this running mate. Heck, I like a bunch of my neighbors and their wives, but I wouldn’t want them to be a heartbeat away from running this country.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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