People do have a lot of false ideas about Obama. Some of them think he’s a moderate.
The guiding theme of President Obama’s new budget is “more.” Compared with today’s levels, there would be more taxes, even more spending, thus more debt. He proposes to spend $3.73 trillion next year, which amounts to 23.6 percent of GDP. Tax rates would rise from 2013 onward. Judging from his rhetoric, Obama’s main worries are that deep cuts in the budget will endanger the economic recovery and shortchange “investments” in education and clean energy. The evidence that these “investments” have yielded positive returns in the past or will do so in the future is nonexistent; ditto the evidence that rising spending has stimulated the economy, unless models that assume this effect are counted as evidence. We are moving on autopilot toward European levels of governmental bloat, and this president seems determined to keep it that way.
Because the Democratic Congress never passed a budget last year, House Republicans are having to work on a budget for the seven months remaining in this fiscal year and a budget for next year at the same time. For the casual consumer of news, it can get confusing. In last fall’s “Pledge to America,” they said they would cut discretionary spending by $100 billion. Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan produced a spending limit for the remainder of the year that would achieve that goal, but only on a prorated basis. Many Republicans, especially freshmen, revolted at the adjustment, partly because they thought it would be hard to explain, and demanded the full $100 billion. Congressman Ryan and the other Republican leaders seem happy to oblige — they have produced a budget that cuts $100 billion from the president’s request for the rest of this year, and plan to offer a budget for the next decade that cuts entitlements — and even happier to have reinforcements in the battle for fiscal restraint.
A D.C. event that brings together George Will (introducing Indiana governor Mitch Daniels) and Jimmy “The Rent Is Too Damn High” McMillan (doing his own inimitable thing) is a splendid circus. But the very circus atmosphere also renders the event, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), ridiculous. For the second year in a row, the presidential straw poll was topped by Ron Paul. To boost its gate, CPAC throws its doors open to truthers, Birchers, and crackpot libertarians (not Glenn Reynolds or Nick Gillespie libertarians, but the-South-was-right libertarians). CPAC has gone from being a rally and a candidate forum to being a freak show with a fever swamp annexed. As Bessie Smith said, you’ve been a good old wagon, Daddy, but you done broke down.
Ann Coulter, in remarks at CPAC, declared herself “a friend of the gays.” She did not deny the sinfulness of same-sex sexual activity, but chided conservatives for dwelling on it so much more than on other sinful behavior, from failures of charity to premarital sex among heterosexuals. We wrongly show gays “a little extra animosity.” Coulter is surely correct to encourage heterosexual conservatives to take the beams out of their own eyes. Neither philosophy nor theology provides any basis for regarding homosexual sin as categorically worse than other kinds, and conservatives have not always kept their perspective. But this is not the end of the matter. There is a strong tendency in our culture to declare that homosexual conduct is not sinful at all, that so regarding it is a form of discrimination that must be policed by the state, and that marriage must be redefined in the name of this new moral orthodoxy. The courts are increasingly inclined to impose this orthodoxy over a resistant public. Under these circumstances, the question of homosexuality will necessarily take up more attention from conservatives than other vices and social ills. We did not choose this fight, and our only choice is to conduct it as effectively and charitably as we can.