A Test for the Supposedly 'Conservative' GOP 2012 Candidates

Do the Republican presidential hopefuls really advocate for smaller government?

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Will the real conservative please stand up? Readers of a certain age remember a show called What's My Line? During the show people tried to stump a panel of celebrities about their line of work. One was struck by how certain answers could be both applicable to a broad range of professions and yet hilariously revelatory to the audience ("Do you spend more than three hours a day on the phone" applies to both congressmen and those answering 1-900 callers).

[Check out 2011: The Year in Cartoons]

After 18 debates since May 2011, people across the country—and certainly the residents of Iowa—must be getting pretty tired of virtually every Republican presidential candidate's claim to be constantly, genuinely, thoughtfully and tirelessly ... Conservative. Frankly, at this point we've discounted the currency of the term so much we should consider throwing it out. After all, we've lived through enough big government "conservatives" that I for one would rather have a small government advocate than any of the adjective or adverb enhanced stalwarts of conservatism. It seems to me to be a much better test regarding the proper role of the federal government.

[See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates]

Let me play Steve Allen for a moment with a few questions for presidential contenders:

  1. Did you support the Paul Ryan budget?
  2. Do you oppose subsidies even when your friends, political contributors, or spouses' business partners benefit from them?
  3. Do you now and have you in the past opposed a federal mandate forcing individuals to purchase health insurance?
  4. Do you believe that the rate of increase in federal spending (because that's what we are talking about) should be reduced, even for entitlements and defense?
  5. Do you support fundamental tax reform and lowering marginal tax rates and the corporate tax rate?
  6. Do you reject grandiose government schemes as so-called solutions to everything from problems in the housing sector (caused, by the way, by a grandiose government scheme), energy sector (caused by a grandiose government scheme), healthcare industry (you get the picture), etc.
  7. Are you appalled at the Fed's loose money policy?
  8. If you are honestly able to answer "yes" to all of the above, you can justifiably be termed an advocate of smaller government.

    • See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.
    • Read the U.S. News debate on the Balanced Budget Amendment.
    • See a photo gallery of Bush's legacy.