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The Problem with Republicans and Conservatives

Republicans and conservatives have a problem.

“PBS is indoctrinating our kids,” says Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). PBS recently aired an episode of the children’s show “Arthur” which “featured—and celebrated—a same-sex wedding.” Lamborn says that “it is time to stop sending our hard-earned tax money to support programming that is objectionable to many Americans.” He has reintroduced a bill “to cut off all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS.” “Parents and churches should be the ones discussing marriage and family with their children—not PBS,” says the indignant Lamborn.

“Responsible fatherhood programs continue to hold the promise of expanding the emotional, educational, financial, and other resources millions of children need to thrive,” says Matt Weidinger, a resident fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The federal government spends over $75 million per year on fatherhood programs. “’Many federal departments have initiatives and programs supporting responsible fatherhood and fathers in the community,’ including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, HHS, HUD, Justice, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.” But despite the proliferation of programs, “very few rigorous evaluations have been done to test their effectiveness.” Concludes Weidinger: “Given the stakes for families and children, it is well worth continuing current efforts while also striving to determine which are the most effective.”

“Government job-training programs appear to be largely ineffective and fail to produce sufficient benefits for workers to justify the costs,” says Tomas Philipson, a member of President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers. According to the White House: “There were more than 40 federal worker-training programs spread across nine different agencies serving more than 10 million Americans in the 2017 fiscal year.” Yet, “Most federal job-training programs produced insufficient data to be clearly evaluated, and the ones that were studied weren’t producing the desired results.” Philipson “suggests the government should be looking for ways to subsidize private programs or create private-public partnerships.”

“The United States must ensure that American taxpayer-funded relief reaches those most in need,” says Jessica Trisko Darden, a Jeane Kirkpatrick fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Darden reports that “since January 2015, USAID’s Office of the Inspector General — an independent agency tasked with monitoring US foreign assistance — has documented more than 350 allegations of fraud, theft, armed group involvement, bribery, and other issues involving US aid in Iraq and Syria alone.” Darden concludes that “it’s time for everyone to acknowledge that without better oversight and management of humanitarian assistance, their well-intentioned work may go to waste — or worse, prolong the very crises this aid is intended to ameliorate.”

Republicans and conservatives have a problem. But in spite of what they say about government television stations, government fatherhood programs, government job-training programs, and government foreign aid, their problem is not with government television stations, government fatherhood programs, government job-training programs, and government foreign aid.

The existence of these and other programs of the federal government goes largely unnoticed by Republicans and conservatives until some government agency gives an organization a grant for some ludicrous study, some egregious liberal bias is revealed, an exceptionally pornographic art exhibit is funded, or some colossal waste is discovered.

That the federal government should not have a Corporation for Public Broadcasting, fatherhood programs, job-training programs, and foreign aid is rarely, if ever, pointed out.

Despite their mantra of limited government, federalism, fidelity to the Constitution, individual freedom, private property, free markets, traditional values, and free enterprise, Republicans and conservatives have no philosophical objection any government program as long as it is run efficiently, doesn’t waste too many taxpayer dollars, or furthers some right-wing agenda like abstinence education.

Republicans and conservatives are statists just like Democrats and progressives. They all believe that the federal government should take money from some Americans and redistribute it to American (and foreign) individuals, groups, organizations, and businesses—after it is filtered through a massive government bureaucracy—in the form of subsidies, vouchers, loans, EBT cards, grants, and cash payments.

When conservatives get enough Republicans elected to gain control of Congress (like during the last six years of Clinton’s presidency and the last two years of Obama’s presidency) or Congress and the White House (like during four plus years of Bush’s presidency and the first two years of Trump’s presidency), they not only do absolutely nothing of substance to reverse the progressive polices enacted by Democrats, they often increase their funding, expand them, and supplement them with new progressive policies of their own.

The Republican and conservative ideal of limited government is a government limited to control by Republicans free to carry out a conservative agenda.

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