When the Republican candidate for president suggests that the government buy up bad mortgages, it’s easy to believe all those pre-written obituaries for the conservative movement in America. And the polls showing Barack Obama gaining momentum and Democrats almost certain to add significantly to their majorities in both houses of Congress add to that perception.
There is no doubt that the pendulum of American politics is swinging back, as pendulums inevitably do. But we actually see some nostalgia for certain underappreciated types of conservatism.
Earlier this month, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger warned that his state may need a $7 billion federal loan to keep the government functioning.
At almost the same moment, our Gov. Mike Beebe was floating the idea that the $110 million in budget cuts he ordered for the current fiscal year might not be entirely necessary since revenue has continued to keep pace with original forecasts.
Those forecasts were — here it comes — conservative in the first place. And the pre-emptive budget cuts were too.
Earlier this year, Schwarzenegger suggested that California adopt a budget process more like Arkansas’, and it was dismissed as beneath consideration.
“It’s almost a joke,” Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, said. “If I wanted to live like Arkansas, I would move to Arkansas.”
(Here’s a thought: Maybe Perata really wants to move to Arkansas, but he’s angry because he can’t sell his house and it isn’t worth what he owes on it even if he could.)
We have friends in California — doesn’t everyone? — so there was a little guilt mixed with the schadenfreude, that peculiar pleasure one sometimes derives from the misfortune of others.
Unfortunately, the Pulaski County Quorum Court’s budget committee doesn’t seem to be learning from either example. Recently, it decided to budget $500,000 more in spending in 2009 than it is projected to receive in revenue.
We remember the sage, conservative words of Charles Dickens’ Wilkins Micawber:
“Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure … 19 and six, result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery.”