Jewish World Review Sept. 8, 2003 / 11 Elul, 5763

Neil Cavuto

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Consumer Reports

Watch out, Mr. President | Let me get a bias out of the way, right away. I don't like big government. I don't like a government that coddles me, protects me, and then sends me . . . a big bill. I think Gerald Ford had it right decades ago when he insisted that a "government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."

I used to think Republicans hated big government, too. I'm not so sure now, not when I hear Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie telling the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union Leader that "the days of Reaganesque Republican railings against the expansion of federal government are over."

Oh, really? Says who? I, for one, worry about a party that has forgotten its roots in favor of pandering to its special interests. Believe me, it's not easy to advocate smaller government. In our super size society, we want more, we get more. I say, no more, because you can do more for people by giving them less and stimulating them more. It is not the government's job to make people's lives better. That's up to us. That might be tough love, but it's love.

And Republicans used to espouse it, but true to their baser political instincts, it is Republicans who are ignoring it. No program is too much, no prescription drug benefit too costly, no government contract too egregious in this environment. How the heck did this happen?

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Don't get me wrong, I still think the president has his basic priorities straight. He wants to keep the nation safe, and that doesn't come cheap. He's quite rightly committed money to the things that matter, like a strong national defense, and down the road, an even stronger homeland security defense. Stuff like that matters, because in the end, it isn't the economy, stupid, it's living, stupid. Most Americans would rather be living first, then take a crack at living well, second.

But we can't live well in this country if we keep spending like sailors on a drunken leave. There's only so much dough in the till. And let me be clear . . . it's our till! It's our money! And the president wisely recognized that when he fought for, and won, two big rounds of tax cuts.

The issue for the government then and the issue for the government now is not how much it has, but how much we have. Let me tell you something, it is far better that we have more than it has or things get real screwy. All of a sudden you have politicians thinking it's their birthright to pad more and more spending, more programs, more bridges and tunnels, parks and buildings, highways and railways. These are nice things, but they're not vital things, and sometimes you have to make tough choices, and decide on spending only for the vital things.

We've lost that sense. We've lost that drive, and it could prove the death of us. Again, let me be clear, giving Americans their hard-earned money back isn't the problem. Making no adjustments in massive federal spending is. To me, a leaner government is a better government, and a more efficient government. But when you have Republicans saying they have no problem with a fat government and a less efficient government, count me very worried about our government, and our nation.

And count me very worried when I hear President Bush tell a Labor Day audience that he's looking for a jobs czar and that declining manufacturing jobs demand a government solution.

They don't. The government can't put people to work. A strong, stable and unshackled economy can and will. It's not up to Uncle Sam to fend for our interests. It's up to us. Keep him out. Keep us in. And keep our politicians, Republican and Democrat, accountable not for the bacon they bring home, but precisely for the bacon they do not bring home. We'll all be better for it.

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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News Channel. He is also the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" and "Cavuto on Business." Comment by clicking here.


09/03/03: Tips for Empty Nesters
08/25/03: Friends and hypocrites
08/18/03: When good news goes bad
08/04/03: PHONY BALONEY!
07/28/03: The meaning of a pin
07/21/03: We are what we eat
07/14/03: Don't like it, don't keep it!
07/07/03: The check, and the recovery, is in the mail!
06/29/03: Who says Al's our pal?
06/23/03: The big pitch for the "big get," no big deal!

© 2003, Neil Cavuto