It’s an extremely common criticism of conservatives. We’re always against everything – against expanded taxes, against increased spending, against tuition increases. There’s a simple reason for this. Progressives (that “friendly” word for liberals and their friends) always want more. They want to add this program or increase spending there, they want more taxes and more regulation and more government. Their ideas sound so positive because they use words like “increase” and “more” and “forward” and my least favorite of all, “progress.” We say “eliminate” or “decrease” or “less,” and that dreaded root word, “conserve.”
The truth is, conservatives are not at all negative. Saying we want less spending is saying we want more of our earned income to stay in our pockets. We want more freedom to make decisions about our health and our habits without government oversight. What are we in favor of, as conservatives? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and whatever promotes those to the fullest while protecting those things for everyone.
Let’s take the Texas Budget Compact. This incredibly necessary and overdue list of budgetary measures includes plenty of things conservatives are in favor of. Anyone not in favor of the compact is essentially saying “no” to a host of initiatives that can only be positive for Texans. Truth in budgeting, for example, is about being transparent about spending and taxing – when money is collected for something, it is used for that something, and nothing else. A constitutional spending limit is an act of responsibility and accountability. Supporting it says that you are willing to accept that there is no unlimited coffer of government money, that you plan to be responsible with another’s hard-earned money. Supporting a permanent cut to the business tax encourages business growth, and entrepreneurial enterprise. Nothing could be healthier for our state and our economy!
Preserving the Rainy Day Fund is essential. Savings aren’t there for spending at will when you want to spend more on something, especially when you cannot yet be assured the money being spent is done so efficiently. It isn’t there to make up for gaps in spending that happen after the federal government “stimulates” the economy with money that goes above and beyond normal expenditures. It is for emergencies, much like the socked-away change in the penny bank in your closet.
Finally, the dreaded “cut and eliminate.” We need a government that is efficient, where resources are being used wisely. It scares people, especially legislators, this idea of shrinking government. Yet it is a net positive, not to have two agencies that do the same job, or collect the same information. Redundancy is a negative force in business, and it is a flat-out evil in government.
Positivism in conservative policy exists, and the Texas Budget Compact is the tip of the iceberg. We are in favor of good government. We are in favor of best practices and efficient use. We are in favor of giving individuals more control over their money with taxes that do the least amount of damage to their personal pocketbooks and businesses. I see no doom and gloom in policies that allow Texans freedom from government’s uglier side. Surely we are all in favor of that.