Dangers Of Embarrassing The Grassroots

I expected to have to do a media event complaining about some of Richard Nixon’s compromises near the end of his tenure in office. After all, he wasn’t one of us.

And I expected to do a media event decrying Gerald Ford’s cave-in to the liberal Congress on eleven different issues since taking over from Richard Nixon. After all, he wasn’t one of us.

And I certainly knew I would have to do a media event when Jimmy Carter gave away the Panama Canal (and the liberal leadership in the Senate was helping him). After all, none of them was one of us.

I didn’t expect to have to do a media event critical of Ronald Reagan’s bloated budget, but you see, I was asked to do so by the Reagan White House. That way Reagan didn’t have to be alone on the right flank. After all, he WAS one of us.

I wasn’t surprised to have to do a media event decrying President Bush ’41‘s tax increase as a compromise with the liberal leadership in Congress because after all none of them was one of us.

I surely did expect that the media event complaining about Bill Clinton’s spending policies was inevitable because he most certainly wasn’t one of us.

Last week I did a media event on the profligate spending of the 108th Congress and the fact that President Bush ’43 has yet to veto a bill – I absolutely did not expect to have to do that! They are all supposed to be “one of us”. I was joined by the leaders of the most important economic conservative groups in America, namely Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens for a Sound Economy, The National Taxpayers Union, the Club for Growth and the American Conservative Union.

The Congress has the most conservative leadership in my lifetime. Majority Leader Bill Frist was in the last Congress and is a very conservative Senator. Mitch McConnell is a solid and aggressive conservative as is Conference Chairman Rick Santorum and Policy Chairman Jon Kyl. In the House, the Speaker ordinarily doesn’t vote, but Tom DeLay is Majority Leader. Give me the name of a more aggressive conservative who isn’t a freshman. Roy Blunt, the Majority Whip, was the one of the most conservative Members as was Chris Cox, Policy Chairman. If these people aren’t us who is?

President Bush ran on a platform of keeping spending under control. He is now often compared with Ronald Reagan and it is sometimes said he is the most conservative President in a hundred years.

So how is it that discretionary (non-entitlement, non-defense) spending rose at a rate twice as high as under President Clinton?

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which the House has already passed, and which is pending as the first order of business in the Senate as Congress returns this week – is an utter disgrace. It is filled with so many foolish pet projects for the districts and states of Appropriations Committee Members that it makes a mockery out of the legislative process. It should be defeated.

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.