Well, I guess we’re all entitled to our own narratives about the likelihood of this or that counterfactual given that those counterfactuals cannot be tested for plausibility in any concrete manner. But given the super-human efforts required by the Bush administration to deliver Republican votes for the prescription drug bill in question, I (like Bruce Bartlett) have a hard time believing that that particular bill, at any rate — or any bill with that steep a price tag — was politically inevitable.
But suppose you’re right, Ramesh. If so, a question arises: If an ostensibly conservative president with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress can’t be counted on to at least fight against a massive increase in the welfare state, then what good are they?
Regardless, we’re pretty quick to dismiss complaints about legislation based on some observation about political inevitability, aren’t we? After all, this is supposed to be the place where conservatives stand athwart history yelling “Stop!” — not, “Okay, whatever.” Given the financial collapse of 2008, for instance, one might well argue that some set of bailouts and stimulus was politically inevitable. But nobody here at NRO is handing out a pass to the Obama administration on that basis.
As (another) email from a reader puts it:
Let’s stipulate that a lot of the spending in the stimulus package will be permanent. But as far as cost is concerned, the stimulus bill pales in comparison to Medicare prescription drugs. Yet because the stimulus package is painted blue, it’s THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO AMERICAN LIBERTY. And Medicare Part D, painted red, was unavoidable and forgivable. Is there any doubt that they’d be saying the same about the McCain stimulus package if November came out differently? And still gnashing their teeth about Medicare if a few chads went the other way and Al Gore rammed it through?
I will leave you with the last word if you want it.