Earlier this year, Focal Point radio host Bryan Fischer interviewed conservative author Robert Knight. The interview centered largely around President’s Obama’s administration, specifically discussing media. Both Fischer and Knight believe that the Obama administration is victimizing conservatives. Knight states at one point, “Those on the left hate democracy!” Knight has a new book out: Radical Rulers: The White House Elites Who Are Pushing America Toward Socialism. The publisher (Coral Ridge Ministries, where Knight is a Senior Writer) describes it as “a shocking expose of the most radical administration in American history. Author and journalist Robert Knight presents the amazing truth about White House elites (including President Obama) who are working to push our nation toward socialism.”
Knight’s book isn’t a surprise given the current political environment. What is interesting however is that most Republican presidents of the past 100 years would meet Fischer and Knight’s description of Obama . . . socialist! Talk radio conservatives such as Fischer describe socialism as a large government that spends its citizens money on public programs (despite how they might help said citizens). Far more famous radio and TV host Glenn Beck has pretty much driven Theodore Roosevelt out of the Republican party, condemning him as a “progressive.”
So what about these Republican presidents, what did they do?
Let’s begin with Theodore Roosevelt, who became president in 1901. Through what he called the Square Deal, Roosevelt used of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to end the practices of “bad” corporations. He also involved himself in labor disputes, namely the 1902 coal workers’ threat of strike. Roosevelt sat down with both sides, threatened federal take over and appointed a commission to settle the dispute. In 1906 Roosevelt signed three acts into law: the Hepburn Act (giving the ICC the power to examine the railroad’s business records and set rates), the Food & Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. Finally, Roosevelt’s love for the outdoors became part of the federal government’s conservation movement with the creation of new national parks.
In 1909, William Howard Taft succeeded Roosevelt. He continued to grow the federal government with more aggressive anti-trust action and the ratification of the graduated income tax that provided a reliable and flexible source of revenue for a federal government whose powers, responsibilities, and expenditures continued to grow rapidly.
While remembered as a do-nothing president, Herbert Hoover continued to grow the federal government in his reaction to the Great Depression. In 1932 he signed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and Federal Home Loan Bank Systems into law. Both helped Americans and American corporations survive the largest economic disaster this nation has yet faced and created a precedent for FDR to build his New Deal program upon.
After twenty years of Democratic executive rule, Dwight Eisenhower fulfilled the Republican party’s dreams when the nation elected him president in 1952. He called his philosophy “Modern Republicanism.” Under his leadership the federal government expanded FDR’s New Deal programs, played a large role in planning economic activity, and offered direct federal funding to higher education in the 1957 National Defense Education Act. Finally, Eisenhower instituted the largest public works enterprise: the 41,000-mile interstate highway system.
Eisenhower’s VP, Richard Nixon, became president in 1968. Again, Republicans celebrated over the return of a Republican president and planned for scaling back the federal government. However, Nixon accepted and expanded LBJ’s Great Society. He signed into the law the Environment Protection Agency, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board. The federal government continued to grow with Republican leadership through the expansion of the food stamp program and the indexing of Social Security benefits to reflect inflation.
When George Bush succeeded Reagan, he also included acts that would now qualify as socialism under the definitions provided by Knight. For example, he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 that prohibited discrimination of people with disabilities and required public buildings to be redesigned to include entrances that provided access for the disabled.
The most recent conservative president George W. Bush continued to grow the federal government. He signed Medicare Part D into law in 2003 and it subsidized the costs of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients. The No Child Left Behind Act, which he signed in 2001, increased federal funding of education. Most recently he led the way for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (aka TARP) in the fall of 2003. While Obama has received most of the scrutiny, Bush’s program spent $700 billion on saving financial institutions.
So let’s hear it for all our Republican Presidents, who by conservative talk radio standards are socialists (or worse). Maybe they’re even Marxist-Leninist Maoist Trotskyites! Anyway, it’s all coming together now.
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