The message of this op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer is that we conservatives, and our pal Romney, are just trying to trim the crazy excesses of the LBJ liberalism of the 1960s. Why, we’re not attacking the New Deal! “Romney simply wants to protect a safety net built on conservative New Deal principles from the Great Society-like overreach of Obama.”
What were once fought tooth and nail as wealth redistribution and obvious violations of the Constitution are now “conservative New Deal principles.” The word “entitlement” is used favorably as well. Defending such things has become conservative, now that enough time has passed. We just want to administer the programs of liberalism more efficiently, and call it conservatism.
The general principle, evidently, is not that wealth redistribution is wrong in itself or necessarily opposed to conservatism. The problem is with wealth redistribution that favors constituencies not known for voting Republican.
LBJ’s programs caused all kinds of social pathologies, but according to the article, “conservative New Deal” social insurance causes no such problems.
Here is what a conservative whose philosophy is a bit broader than just the platitudes of Reagan and Romney had to say about that, even though he was speaking about Sweden.