What Economic Conservatives Don’t Get

America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb: How the Looming Debt Crisis Threatens the American Dream— and How We Can Turn the Tide Before It’s Too Late Peter FerraraBroadside Books/Harper Collins, 2011; $25.99, 432 pages When he wrote The Foes of Our Household in 1917, Theodore Roosevelt noted that “reforms are excellent, but if there is nobody to reform, their value becomes somewhat problematical. In order to make a man into a better citizen, we must first have the man.” TR was concerned that the Progressive reforms of his era, many of which he implemented as president and pushed during the 1912 campaign, might come to naught given the propensity of Americans at the time to shirk the responsibilities of marriage and family and limit average fertility to just one or two children per couple, which he claimed would lead to national suicide. “Unless there are children in sufficient numbers,” the twenty-sixth president warned, reforms of this or that are not worth discussing. These insights of one of the most popular and successful Republican presidents, a chief executive whose imprint on public policy lasted sixty years and turned America into a social-conservative paradise at mid-twentieth century, ought to be heeded by his party today. His observations would especially benefit libertarians and economic conservatives, who not only run the conservative think tanks but also shape the party’s agenda as broadcast from Capitol Hill, the conservative media, and presidential candidates. For a generation, this faction of the party has successfully transformed the GOP into the party of ideas, of, yes, reform initiatives ranging from Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics to Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity. No longer is the Republican party content with being the minority party or a decaffeinated version of the Democratic party, as it was under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. In fact, with its support among grass-roots tea-party activists and rel
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