Clear as mud

Americans are essentially equally divided in their views of the role of the federal government, with one-third tilting toward a preference for a government that actively takes steps to improve the lives of its citizens, one-third preferring a limited government that performs mostly basic functions, and the remainder in the middle.


As the Daily Kos piece that I took this quote from says, this is as “clear as mud.” Reading the Gallup piece, the definitions don’t get any more specific. Unsurprisingly, opinions form a bell curve, with small numbers at either end and the majority nestled in the middle. This has been a several-decades-old problem with the whole idea of limited government. The Republican/Tea Party candidate for Kentucky Rand Paul and his opponent, Democrat Jack Conway, had a debate on October 2nd. What are Paul’s ideas on how to fix the economy? Well, Conway stated that the election was a choice between someone who “has said that he is against the American Disabilities Act, between someone who is going to stand up and protect Medicare and someone who says Medicare needs a $2,000 deductible.” Paul at first defended his view on the Medicare deductible, even though Conway ran a video that quotes a senior citizen saying “That’s crazy. I can’t afford that.” Paul then put out a new ad that “declares that ‘Rand Paul doesn’t support higher Medicare deductibles for seniors’ and accuses Conway of distorting Paul’s views.”

So, in the battle of ideas, when it came to defining government responsibility concerning how much Medicare patients would pay in out-of-pocket costs and how much the government should pick up, the Republican/Tea Party candidate at first declared that patients should pay for a really big proportion of Medicare costs, but quickly relented and wants to keep deductibles where they are.

So what exactly does it mean when even the Tea Party candidate wants to keep Medicare deductibles where they are? Does it mean that he supports a “government that actively takes steps” or does it mean he supports “limited government”? This is not a new problem. This has been a problem with the whole concept of “limited government” since well before Ronald Reagan became President. 30 years later, the problem hasn’t moved a single inch. Everybody, his brother, Aunt Margaret and even little Suzy loves the idea of “limited government,” as long as that doesn’t mean cuts to his or her favorite program.

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