Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

More faith-based initiative

The ubiquitous Amy Sullivan, voice of the religious left in the Democratic Party, writes on the faith-based initiative in TNR. While it’s intended to be a criticism of the program, the article doesn’t amount to much. Yes, the dollars going to non-entitlement social programs haven’t gone up much in the Bush Administration. Yes, the faith-based share hasn’t changed all that much, and only a small portion of it goes to groups that weren’t well-represented in the programs prior to 2001.

This doesn’t sound like theocracy to me. And if it were seriously meant to be a political slush fund, they’d be doing more with it.

What’s more, that there are few true believers in the Bush Administration doesn’t surprise me. Most specialized programs in an Administration have only a few devoted advocates.

Why hasn’t more been made of the initiative? There’s been Congressional resistance, which has made the enactment of new legislation almost impossible. There’s the post-9/11 focus on national security, with defense expenses and policy taking up a substantial portion of the budget and of the President’s time and attention. As for the money question, the answer Sullivan offers is damning only if you accept the premise that more government spending is always a good thing.

In sum, there’s less than meets the eye in Sullivan’s criticism. Am I disappointed that more hasn’t changed after more than five years? Yes, but I’m not going to quarrel with the Bush Administration’s focus on foreign policy and homeland security, nor with its unfortunately failed effort to start a national conversation on social security. GWB is spending what political capital he has on important matters. Given Democratic resistance on all fronts, there’s only so much he can accomplish in the faith-based initiative.

Discussions - 2 Comments

It’s also worth noting that there’s lots of bureaucratic resistance to the initiative and that plenty of Republican congressmen are not too excited about it, since whatever monies it might produce would largely go to inner-city programs, not the ’burbs.


I couldn’t agree more.

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