We've all heard rumors that conservatism, as a governing philosophy, was on life support. Under Bush, as the federal government embraced massive deficits, a stronger federal role in education, an expansion of Medicare, a stronger federal role in law enforcement (the Patriot Act), and the most bloated, pork-laden transportation bill anyone's ever seen, "conservatism" was just about a goner.
But I didn't believe it was really dead until this morning, when I saw Tom DeLay tell Rev. Moon's Washington Times that the federal government's massive budget is now waste-free.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.
Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.
"My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.
Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."
There's no indication that he was kidding. Tom DeLay — who has seen federal spending, federal deficits, and the size of the federal government flourish under Republican control — now believes the massive federal budget is just about perfect. No more waste, no more abuse, no more fat to trim.
A few far-right stragglers may still argue that the government should cut spending to help bring the budget back towards balance, but DeLay effectively explained yesterday that this simply can't be done. The Majority Leader has declared "victory."
Someone let me know when the memorial services for conservatism will be held; I'd like to send flowers.