The Corner

Goldwater’s Anti-Statism

How much of it is there, really, in his alleged heirs? Goldwater was a man who could go to Tennessee and pledge to abolish the Tennessee Valley Authority. Is Schwarzenegger that kind of government-cutter? Has any Republican since Goldwater been? (Reagan wasn’t.) Is John McCain?

McCain’s record on spending is forever being praised by people who have never looked up what percentage of the federal budget can be accounted for by pork. His anti-pork campaign has more to do with a kind of nationalism than with anti-statism. His genuinely solid anti-spending votes–for example, on Medicare–seem to be driven by pique at Bush. And he shows no restraint on regulation, seeking sweeping new regulations of the airline and health-care industries. (One of the ways he wants to save money on Medicare is by using the federal government’s bargaining power to impose de facto price controls on the drug industry.) A revival of Goldwater Republicanism? When it comes to the size of government: I wish.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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