Fiscal conservatism

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Fiscal conservatism is a term used in the United States to refer to economic and political policy that advocates restraint of government taxation, government expenditures and deficits, and government debt.


[edit] Fiscal conservatism in the United States

A major cause of the American Revolution was "No Taxation without Representation." The Americans insisted that their historic rights as Englishmen entitled them to a voice in setting tax policies, which Britain denied. The issue was not the tax itself or its size, but approval by elected representatives.

[edit] Early United States

The Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson supported a weak central government and a more laissez-faire approach than that of Hamilton's rival party, the Federalists. They opposed Hamilton's plan to pay off the debts owed by the states for the expense of the American Revolution, because some of the debt was held by financiers and speculators (who did not deserve payment) rather than the original holders. Hamilton passed his legislation and set up taxes to pay the debts. Jefferson in particular strongly opposed having any national debt, although he relented when the opportunity came in 1803 of purchasing Louisiana.

Four presidents (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams) were members of the Democratic-Republican Party, but in the end, the early Republic was influenced more by the Federalists, who advocated strong central government and a mix of capitalism and state control to attempt to influence and bolster the economy.

[edit] The late 1800s

In the late 1800s, a new fiscal conservative political party emerged, the Republican Party. Unlike the modern fiscal conservatives, these fiscal conservatives were paleoconservative supporters of protectionism and tariffs, similar in some ways to today's Reform Party.

They were also generally supporters of big business and (internally) laissez-faire economics, although by 1890 they had been convinced into supporting Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Interstate Commerce Commission following massive complaints.

[edit] Early 20th century

In the early 1900s, fiscal conservatives were often at odds with progressive President Theodore Roosevelt, particularly for his support of antitrust laws.

During the 1920s, President Calvin Coolidge's pro-business economic policy were credited for the successful period of economic growth known as the "Roaring Twenties." After the great crash of 1929, however, Coolidge's policies and Hoover's took the blame. Coolidge not only lowered taxes, but also reduced the national debt from World War I. His actions, however, may have been due more to a sense of federalism than fiscal conservatism: Robert Sobel notes that "[a]s Governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge supported wages and hours legislation, opposed child labor, imposed economic controls during World War I, favored safety measures in factories, and even worker representation on corporate boards. Did he support these measures while president? No, because in the 1920s, such matters were considered the responsibilities of state and local governments." [1]

During the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was opposed by many conservatives because it expanded the scope of the federal government, and regulated the economy. In general Roosevelt did not raise taxes above the high levels Hoover had set. In World War Two there was broad agreement for heavy taxes, with conservatives insisting that the income tax base be broadened to include the great majority, rather than the 10% who before 1942 paid all income taxes.

After 1945 fiscal conservatism was most prevalent among some Democratic Senators from the South, especially Harry F. Byrd, his son Harry F. Byrd, Jr., and Walter F. George.<ref name="Sindler"> Template:Cite journal</ref> <ref name="Jewell">Template:Cite journal </ref>

[edit] The Reagan Era

Main article: Reaganomics

Fiscal conservatism reached perhaps its greatest influence the United States during the presidency of Ronald Reagan (1980-1988). During his tenure, Reagan touted economic policies that became known as Reaganomics. Based on the theory of supply-side economics, his policies centered around cutting income taxes, raising social security taxes, deregulating the economy, and stopping inflation by a tight monetary policy. Reagan also favored reducing the size and scope of government (see limited government), proposing a balanced federal budget.

[edit] References


[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Opinions and editorials

Note: The links in this section are not to be considered as unbiased sources of information, but rather are included for completeness only.

Fiscal conservatism

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