Skinflint conservatives take on Bush

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Whatever happened to fiscal conservatism? It's as gone as the typewriter. "Big government" conservatism dominates the Republican Party. The balanced-budget amendment is not even a memory but a vague recollection. Could this reversal someday become the party's electoral undoing?

Increasing fissures in the Republican coalition are turning skinflint Libertarians against President Bush's brand of conservatism. Cato Institute Executive Vice President and intellectual preceptor David Boaz writes on the Cato Website

A journalist suggested to me yesterday that the Republican Party has shifted from a business-oriented party reaching out to social conservatives to a social-conservative party trying to hold on to business and economic conservatives. If he [...is...] right, then the libertarian tendency to vote Republican will be increasingly strained. Libertarians may even come to see "big government conservatism"—manifested everywhere from Medicare expansion and overspending to wiretapping and "your papers, please"—as a bigger enemy than the feckless Democrats.

Boaz is hardly alone. In a review of a new book about how the GOP stands to lose antigovernment libertarians while cementing bonds with Christian conservatives, writer Patrick Tyler posted this missive on the American Spectator Website

Bush's GOP, however, is making a Democratic pitch to libertarian-minded voters more credible. The Republican Party is rapidly losing its identity as the party of fiscal responsibility and small government. And Republican intrusions into private and local affairs – think Terri Schiavo – are making Democrats look comparatively restrained.

There's always the "where can they go?" question. Can anyone seriously argue that libertarian antigovernment conservatives will vote for the Democratic ticket? Perish the thought!