The bail out of Wall Street and big banks in 2008 was a moment of clarity for the patriots, advocates of liberty, and Republicans who had joined together in what is called the Conservative Movement. Before the bailouts, many of us found ways to excuse the spending binges and expansion of government under the Bush Administration. But the complete repugnancy of bailing out huge Wall Street firms and banks had the effect of finally waking us up to the fact that many Republicans who had won elections with our support were, in fact, purveyors of big government. Indeed this event was so powerful that many of us chose not to exercise that dearest and most hard fought for of rights – the right to vote – in protest to the unacceptable choice we were being forced to make during the 2008 presidential elections.
Soon after the 2008 elections, the federal government again engaged in a spending binge with a trillion dollar ‘stimulus’ spending bill, the bailout of the American auto industry, and the Patient Care and Affordable Care Act (‘Obama Care’). While these may have been the first pieces of legislation that the organized citizens now known as the Tea Party publicly opposed, it was the bailouts of Wall Street that inspired the movement and led it to organize; without the bailouts, there would have been no organization to oppose ‘Obama Care’ and other debt creating legislation. This monstrous bailout was the galvanizing event behind the Tea Party and it is doubtful that the movement would have gained any traction without such a clear example of government favoritism against the people.
The Tea Party was a beautiful happening! So beautiful was the sight of watching our citizens rise up in opposition to a federal government that has lost any sense of restraint that it is easy to forget that the enlightenment, which made it all possible, came at a heavy price – the expansion of government, debt, and an obscene redistribution of wealth from the people to a few select financial firms and companies. All the hope that the Tea Party provided, along with the labor, sacrifice, and treasure that was involved in organizing it, will be for naught if we do not examine how it was that the purveyors of big government got into power with our support to begin with. Without introspection and permanent changes in how we go by selecting our representatives, we will remain susceptible to repeating the mistakes of the past.
I write this because I feel we are on that same tired road; the same road that gave us the bailouts and a fourteen trillion dollar national debt. We are traveling this road because we are forgetting the lessons of the past. We are engaging in the very behavior that cost us dearly in the past and will burden generations to come. We are allowing those very people who the Tea Party sought to remove from influence to regain their power. If we do not rectify this situation, the Tea Party will go down in history as only a brief moment of enlightenment unable to be sustained and unwilling to hold back the forces that have brought this country to the brink of ruin.
If you think my words embellished, ask yourself the following question: why is it that the top three candidates in the Republican Presidential Primaries are the only ones in the “conservative” field that supported the bailout of Wall Street? Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and Rick Perry all supported the bailouts and refused to help those conservatives and Republicans who opposed the legislation. When the chips were down and the situation dire, the three of them chose to provide political cover and support to those who were giving our money to the very people who caused this great economic collapse. Their decision to support the bailouts should be a telling sign, more powerful than any campaign slogan, about their principles and how they would govern if elected. If we elect one of these three candidates as the nominee to our party, we will lose all credibility on the message of limited government. Worst still, we will be handing the presidency and control of the Republican Party to those who have shown a blatant disregard and contempt towards what we stand for.
What follows is a documentation and discussion of these three candidates’ support of the bailouts. My next article will concentrate on why it is that we continue to support those who, for all practical purposes, oppose us and what we can do to remedy the situation.
Herman Cain’s rise in the polls has been a surprise to many people. More surprising however was a recent CNN report that showed Mr. Cain having the most support from self-identified Tea Party activists than any other candidates in the field. This surge of support is more a testament to the power of sloganism and salesmanship rather than the power of conservative principles. His politics have been so skillful that he has managed to erect an image of himself as a grass-roots conservative outsider, when in reality he is a well-connected banking insider. Anybody who reads Mr. Cain’s 2008 article (found here: http://004eeb5.netsolhost.com/hc133.htm) will notice that his current campaign rhetoric of self-reliance, responsibility, and hard work applies only to the poor and working class. The fact is that Herman Cain supported the biggest case of corporate welfare that has ever been handed out by our government; yet we are to believe that this man is a conservative and champion of the Tea Party and conservatives?
There is no need to misrepresent or take out of context Mr. Cain’s arguments in order to demonstrate that, even with the most favorable of readings, Mr. Cain cannot be trusted to pursue a limited government agenda if elected. In his article, Mr. Cain argues that having the government own preferred stock in a few selected firms is a good idea if the government can make a profit. Owning less than 51 percent of a company, Mr. Cain argues, is not nationalism. In fairness Mr. Cain also argues against the government purchasing toxic assets from the banks, but he does not argue against legislation that would enable the administrators of the program to do just that if they wanted to. When confronted about his support of TARP (see interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol45PnAIFRU), Mr. Cain stated that he supported TARP despite not knowing how it was going to be implemented but has since changed his mind because the government was “picking winners and losers.”
This entire episode should make anyone with conservative inclinations squirm. Besides the fact that bailouts by their very nature are the picking of winners and losers, thereby making his explanation unsatisfactory, his reasoning on the issue is the type of reasoning that both justifies and enables big government intervention in the economy. It justifies government intervention in the economy because it is an expression of the idea that the federal government is indeed capable of fixing problems in the economy and that purchasing private businesses for a profit is a legitimate form of government intervention. This same reasoning was used to justify the government’s involvement in the car industry and in making loans to businesses such as Solyndra. All of these are justified as government fixing a problem in the market with the profit factor used to ease taxpayer concerns. His reasoning demonstrates no concern for the constitutional limits of the federal government, the moral implications of bailing out a few select firms, or the practical economic concerns that free-market economists hold with regards to government intervention. This should be alarming! Somehow Herman Cain forgot these principles in a time of crisis and decided to lend his support to those who were engaging in a kind of bottom-up wealth redistribution that cannot be justified. Or perhaps he never held these bedrock principles of the conservative movement to begin with?
Even if one does not want to believe that Mr. Cain is intentionally for big government, it is very difficult ignore that he is an enabler. The fact is that Mr. Cain supported legislation that ceded funds to the Department of Treasury along with the discretion on how to use those funds. This means that the legislation he was supporting did not guarantee that the funds would be used in the manner that he suggested in justifying the legislation. We can excuse this as a naïve mistake on his part, but what is not excusable is the way he talked down to conservatives and “free market purists” when they were fighting against the bailouts. This unwillingness to listen, and chastisement of the very base he now claims to champion, evidences that he will not be a president who listens to conservatives when it matters most. This is nothing new with Mr. Cain as he has shown this same pattern of behavior with regards to the Federal Reserve (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/11/ron-paul-herman-cain-fed-audit-gop-debate_n_1006228.html). So even if Mr. Cain does not fundamentally believe in government intervention, he has been known to support such intervention and has proven to be indifferent, and indeed insulting, towards those trying to fight against them.
The fact is, that when it mattered most, and conservatives were rallying against the bailout of Wall Street, Mr. Cain decided to put down conservative ideas and tout the ideas of those who promote government intervention in the economy. His actions and reasoning helped justify and enable not only the TARP bailout, but also all subsequent bailouts. This should be unforgivable, but somehow his actions on this matter have been overlooked by Tea Party and activists. Support for Herman Cain must be dropped lest the Tea Party and conservatives lose their credibility when it comes to limited government.
Governor Rick Perry’s meteoric rise and fall was a welcomed sight, and an example of what must happen to Herman Cain. When Governor Perry entered the race, many conservatives believed they had finally found their champion. His fiery and tough rhetoric was a sharp contrast to Mitt Romney, and we were led to believe that Governor Perry was indeed one of us. However, as events unfolded, it became clear that there was no substance behind the rhetoric. Governor Perry was exposed as an insider of the worst kind; a pay-to-play politician with only marginal conservative inclinations when it came to actual governing (see article: http://www.kens5.com/news/Texas-lobbyist-Mike-Toomey-is-force-behind-Rick-Perry-132063813.html.) Exposed, he quickly lost the majority of his support.
With his record on full display, it is no surprise that Governor Perry lent his support to the passage of the Wall Street bailouts. In a joint letter with Democrat Joe Manchin, Governor Perry urged Nancy Pelosi to “act now” in passing an “economic recovery package.” (See Letter: http://www.rightspeak.net/2011/08/rick-perry-urged-congress-to-pass-tarp.html.) Out of context this letter seems benign; after all, who can be against an economic “recovery” package? The problem for Governor Perry is that the only package being discussed was the bailout of Wall Street. This legislation was presented to the people as an urgent necessity to avoid an economic collapse. Governor Perry fed into that narrative and gave bi-partisan credence to it. Put in context, the letter is nothing more than a show of support to both the bailout and the narrative justifying its passage.
Legislation detrimental to the people is always passed in the name of the people - ‘Obama Care’ was the “Affordable Care Act,” the act setting a precedent to curbing our constitutional rights was the “Patriot Act.” In a time of perceived crisis, we need leaders who will not avail themselves of the situation to pass legislation favoring the monied interest over the people. Governor Perry lent his support to the crisis narrative that was used to bailout Wall Street and therefore cannot be trusted to side with us as president. He may deny his support for the bailouts now, but anyone who takes an objective look at his actions will see that his denial is a stretch.
His support of the bailouts is but one mark of many against him. In his book entitled ‘Fed Up,’ Governor Perry adopted many of Dr. Ron Paul’s position. Among these were the Federal Reserve, Social Security, and military adventurism. His inability, or lack of desire, to now defend these positions is an affront to the very conservatives he was trying to court with the publication of his book. He either lacks the knowledge to defend these positions or, worse still, the great interests behind his campaign prohibit him from doing so. Either way, Governor Perry is incapable of supporting the values we hold dear. The Tea Party and conservatives will do well by staying away from him!
What can be said about Mitt Romney other than he can lie with the best of them? If you think this is a harsh assessment, the following video (though an ad from the Perry Campaign) demonstrates the accuracy of the assessment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FIKySVnSvA. The fact that the Republican Party’s establishment supports this political camelion should be a telling sign of the moral character of that element within the party. What type of people support a candidate who ran to the left of Teddy Kennedy in Massachusetts but now runs as a conservative? What type of people support a candidate who runs a dishonest campaign? The deception is so obvious that one cannot conclude anything other than that the establishment of the Republican Party are an amoral lot who seek nothing but the control of government. These are the type of people that the Republican Party can do without!
Mitt Romney receives more money from the monied interests in this country than any other Republican candidate. It should therefore be no surprise that Mitt Romney not only supported the bailout of Wall Street, but also the reappointment of Ben Bernanke as the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Mr. Romney is also unrepentant in his support of the bailouts. To this day he justifies his support of TARP with the crisis narrative used to exploit the situation and pass it. His current position is the same as Herman Cain’s; that the program was simply not administered properly.
This concept of proper administration is prevalent throughout Mr. Romney’s candidacy. If one were to listen to his message with a keen ear, one will notice that is begins with the premise that government is a good thing – the only problem is that government needs to be administered better. From that premise we are the asked the following: “Who can administer big government better than the businessman Mitt Romney?” This is Mitt Romney’s campaign in essence!
The accuracy of this analysis can be demonstrated through Mr. Romney’s position on social security. In an early debate Mr. Romney stated that Social Security is both a constitutional and successful program. All that is needed, says Mr. Romney, is better administered. (See video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVyW2c2NzyE.) A conservative would find this position troubling for various reasons. First, how can getting millions of people dependant on a government check be considered a success? It is not! Furthermore, this dependency makes it impossible for states to resist federal power because a substantial portion of the population is dependant on money from the federal government. Second, Social Security is indeed unconstitutional. Even the very authors of the program knew that it was. (See article: http://townhall.com/columnists/terryjeffrey/2011/09/14/authors_of_social_security_believed_it_was_unconstitutional.) By following Mr. Romney’s reasoning, conservatives will cede their own constitutional argument against big government. One example of this would be the constitutionality of ‘Obama Care’s’ individual mandate. Both Social Security and ‘Obama Care’ require the citizens to purchase insurance: the former retirement insurance and the latter health insurance. If the mandate of Social Security is constitutional, why is the mandate in ‘Obama Care’ not? Lastly, as stated above, Mitt Romney’s entire argument begins from the premise that big government is good and that it only needs to be administered wisely. This is not conservative!
As any objective reader will see, Mr. Romney’s campaign is an affront to the Tea Party and conservatives in the Republican Party. Electing him as the nominee will confer the Party’s blessing on the philosophy of big government. Unlike some of the other candidates in the field, Mr. Romney’s pretenses to conservatism is transparent and easy to spot. However, the failure of the Tea Party and conservatives to distinguish the truly conservative candidates in the field has led to a divided front. This division has now created the very real possibility that Mitt Romney will win by default.
I hope, that after reading this, you become aware of the reality that the Tea Party and conservatives will destroy their cause by electing any of these three candidates as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. In my next article, I will discuss why we continually find ourselves in this position as well as what we can do to avoid it in the future.
 The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 will end up costing about a trillion dollars if interest payments are included in the cost.
 I leave out Mr. Huntsman. Although he is the only other Republican who supported TARP, he is the only candidate out of the 9 not holding himself out as a conservative.
 Accusations of misrepresenting his past positions seems to be Herman Cain’s modus operandi when confronted with his past record.
 Social Security is considered a tax and welfare program for constitutional purposes. ‘Obama Care’ can easily be characterized in such a fashion in the courts.