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Triumph of the redistributionist left

Even with Republicans in control, trends are decidedly in favor of massive redistribution of wealth.

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The political left in America is emerging victorious.

No, this isn't about the damage that Jack Abramoff's mischief has done to the political right. Nor is it about President Bush's lousy poll numbers. And it doesn't refer to Democrats' recent win of two governorships.

It's about something much deeper; namely, that the era of big government is far from over. Trends are decidedly in favor of that quintessential leftist goal: massive redistribution of wealth.

Republicans' capture of both Congress and the White House was, understandably, a demoralizing blow to the left. But the latter can take solace that "Republican" is no longer synonymous with spending restraint, free markets, and other ideals of the political right.

While the left did not get its way on tax cuts, this may be only a temporary defeat: Freewheeling spending has made future tax cuts politically a lot harder.

During the first five years of President Bush's presidency, nondefense discretionary spending (i.e., spending decided on an annual basis) rose 27.9 percent, far more than the 1.9 percent growth during President Clinton's first five years, according to the libertarian Reason Foundation. And according to Citizens Against Government Waste, the number of congressional "pork barrel" projects under Republican leadership during fiscal 2005 was 13,997, more than 10 times that of 1994.

Discretionary spending is dwarfed by mandatory spending - spending that cannot be changed without changing the laws. Shifting demographics combined with an inability to change those laws virtually ensures that, through programs such as Social Security and Medicare, America's workers will be forced to redistribute a larger and larger portion of their income to other Americans in the coming decades.

The near impossibility of changing the system was evident in the recent effort to convert Social Security from a spending program to a savings program. It hardly stood a chance against the powerful senior citizens' lobby and other left-leaning groups, and their allies in Congress on both sides of the political aisle.

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