The media has had a field day with Gov. Rick Perry’s recent assertion that George W. Bush was never a fiscal conservative. His comments were captured — of course — on YouTube. The real problem, of course, is that he was speaking absolute truth.
George W. Bush may or may not be any number of things. Having met with him off and on before and during his governorship, I think of him fondly as a genuinely nice fellow. But I also know he was not, as Gov. Perry said so succintly, ever much of a fiscal conservative.
He didn’t work to reign in spending in Texas, and he never pretended to try. While the conservative movement has for years been seeking a strengthened spending limit, Gov. Bush was silent (Perry has at least raised the profile of the issue).
Conservatives have been disappointed by his lack of vetoes as president (which he didn’t issue until the Ds took over — letting the Republican big-spenders pork their party into the minority). But no one can say they weren’t warned; as governor he used his line-item veto on just a few hundred million dollars of spending in multi-billion-dollar budgets.
Again, not the management style of a fiscal conservative.
Perry made his comments following a question that, basically, asked about how Republican candidates will fair on the big-spending issue this campaign season. Until conservative lawmakers (state rep to prez) get their fiscal house in order, and demonstrate they are breaking with the big-spending, election-losing trends of the last decade, they will have a hard time getting taxpayers interested in voting.