BIG GOVERNMENT CONSERVATISM
(House of Representatives - October 13, 2011)

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[Pages H6859-H6860]
                      BIG GOVERNMENT CONSERVATISM

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Tennessee (Mr. Duncan) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. DUNCAN of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, in the current issue of the 
American Spectator Magazine, Robert Merry, the former CEO of the 
Congressional Quarterly, has a great article that I wish everyone would 
read. It is an article about the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, but it 
applies lessons of history to modern-day issues and problems better 
than almost anything I have ever read.
  Mr. Merry says the Republican Party should not follow the big 
government conservatism of David Brooks, William Kristol, or Presidents 
like Theodore Roosevelt or George W. Bush, who he says ``expanded the 
size and scope of the Federal Government and pursued the global goal of 
remaking other cultures in far-flung regions.''
  Mr. Merry asks, ``Who among past Presidents should Republicans turn 
to for lessons and guidance?''
  ``The answer,'' he says, ``is Andrew Jackson, who would have slapped 
down the notion of American greatness conservatism,'' i.e., big 
government conservatism, ``with utter contempt because he believed,'' 
that is, Jackson believed, ``the country's greatness emanated from its 
people, not from its government.
  ``Jackson was the great conservative populist of American history, 
and his story bears study at a time when the country seems receptive to 
a well-crafted brand of conservative populism.''
  ``Indeed,'' Mr. Merry continues, ``conservative populism is the 
essence of the Tea Party--opposed to big, intrusive government; angry 
about the corporate bailouts of the late Bush and early Obama 
administrations; fearful of the consequences of fiscal incontinence; 
suspicious of governmental favoritism; wary of excessive global 
ambition.
  ``These concerns and fears were Jackson's concerns and fears 180 
years ago when he became President, and his greatest legacy is his 
constant warning that governmental encroachments would lead to 
precisely the kinds of problems that are today besieging the country. 
That legacy deserves attention.''
  Mr. Merry also admires Thomas Jefferson. He wrote:
  ``Jackson was of course a Democrat, but the Democratic Party of that 
era was almost the polar opposite of today's version.
  ``The 19th-century party emerged from the politics of Thomas 
Jefferson, who despised the governing Federalists of the early Republic 
for their elitist tendencies and push for concentrated Federal power.
  ``Jefferson brought forth new political catchphrases: small 
government,

[[Page H6860]]

strict construction of the Constitution, States' rights, reduced taxes, 
less intrusion into the lives of citizens.
  ``His administration, historian Joyce Appleby wrote, would speak for 
`the rational, self-improving, independent man who could be counted on 
to take care of himself and his family if only intrusive institutions 
were removed.' ''
  Then Mr. Merry goes on and says about Jackson: ``Jackson knew that 
big government could always be manipulated to benefit the few at the 
top, especially those who worked or formerly worked for the government 
and big government contractors.''
  Merry wrote: ``Jackson's most penetrating political insight was that 
concentrated governmental power always leads to corruption and abuse. 
The way to prevent this, he believed, was to maintain a diffusion of 
power and keep it as close to the people as possible.
  ``It wasn't that ordinary folks were less likely to abuse power; 
human nature applied to all. But if power were spread out through the 
polity, it couldn't be directed toward special favors and privileges 
for those who always managed to get their hands on power when it was 
available in sufficient increments. The playing field would be level.''
  Of course the thing Jackson is most remembered for as President is 
his veto of a federally run national bank.
  ``The President wasted no time in vetoing legislation, daring his 
political opponents to make the most of it. Few documents in the 
American political literature capture conservative populism with the 
verve and power of Jackson's veto message. In it he portrayed the bank 
as a government-sponsored monopoly that employed the money of taxpayers 
to enhance the power, the privileges and wealth of a very few Americans 
and foreigners--`chiefly the richest class'--who owned stock in the 
bank and worked for it.
  ``If government is to grant such gratuities, he said, `Let them not 
be bestowed on the subjects of a foreign government nor upon a 
designated and favored class of men in our own country.'
  ``Rather, he added, such favors should be granted in such way as to 
`let each American in turn enjoy the opportunity to profit by our 
bounty.' ''
  Finally, Merry applies the Jackson philosophy the Dodd-Frank bill and 
similar legislation, which, he says, Jackson would have opposed, and 
says Jackson ``would expel Wall Street henchmen from the government, 
particularly if they came from Goldman Sachs.''
  He also wrote that ``Jackson would be aghast that Fannie Mae and 
Freddie Mac still exist. Kill `em, he would demand.
  ``The whole story of these government-sponsored enterprises would 
scandalize him--government guarantees that amount to government 
subsidies that are then used to lobby the government for ever more 
economic leverage.''
  He has very accurately described the big government, big business 
duopoly that runs this country today. I urge all of my colleagues and 
others to read the Robert Merry article about Andrew Jackson in the 
October issue of the American Spectator Magazine.

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