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Mitt, Newt and Rick: Let’s end the myth that the GOP believes in limited government.

The 2012 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination should, once and for all, end the myth that the GOP is the party of limited government, free markets and personal liberty. I submit it is instructive to look at the records of the three remaining GOP candidates not named “Paul.”

The following bullet points were excerpted verbatim from’s candidate profiles. Yes, I have cherry picked items inconsistent with limited government, free markets and personal liberty. Yes, these same profiles mention positions of each candidate that are consistent with limited government, free markets and personal liberty.

The point of this post, however, is to show that none of these three candidates believe, as a first principle, in limited government, free markets and personal liberty. They each are more than willing to make exceptions when expedient. Therefore, any claim that they believe in limited government, free markets or personal liberty must be prefaced by the qualifier “when convenient.”

Mitt Romney:

  • Defends the mandate-and-regulate approach to health care he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts
  • He favors strong government surveillance powers to combat terrorism, and has praised the PATRIOT Act as a useful information gathering tool. 
  • previously backed … No Child Left Behind. 
  • He’s conveniently in favor of subsidies for corn-based ethanol.

Newt Gingrich:

  • Opposes Obamacare but in 2005 joined Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in “appearing to endorse proposals to require all individuals to have some form of health coverage.”
  •  Gingrich joined Obama’s “Race to the Top” in 2009, calling Education Secretary Arne Duncan “a serious innovator.” 
  •  Gingrich likes ethanol subsidies and has accused “big cities” and “big urban newspapers” of trying to hurt the farmers who benefit from them. Also likes fossil fuel subsidies and said in 2010 that “a low-cost energy regime is essential to our country.” Supported cap and trade in 2007, 

Rick Santorum:

  •  While he was in office … his record was, in the Club for Growth’s words, “plagued by the big-spending habits that Republicans adopted during the Bush years of 2001-2006.” He was a strong supporter of dairy subsidies, voted for Medicare Part D and the 2005 highway bill
  • Sen. Santorum voted for the Sarbanes-Oxley law that he now wants to repeal. He also backed steel tariffs and was a player in the GOP’s corporatist K Street Project. After initial opposition to the program, he became a big AmeriCorps booster.
  • “This idea that people should be able to go and do whatever they want and it doesn’t really matter as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, that’s not our founders’ view of freedom.”
  • He joined Hillary Clinton’s crusade against violent video games, used campaign finance regulations to threaten critics’ freedom of speech, and favors a porn crackdown.
  •  … he has warned against “the 10th amendment run amok.”
  •  He also has a history of supporting national schooling standards. He voted for the No Child Left Behind bill in 2001.
  •  … he has an on-again, off-again history of support for energy subsidies as well. In 2008 he called for Washington to “mandate that all cars sold in the United States…be ‘flex-fuel vehicles’—that is, they should be able to run on a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.”

Can we quit pretending? The GOP loves government programs. One might be able to make the case that the GOP loves government programs less than Democrats, but that is damning with faint praise.


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