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Editorial: Time to decide: Which is the party of big government?

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opinion River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Time to decide: Which is the party of big

government?

Democrats usually get stuck with the “big government” label. There’s some justification. The party tends to support and expand public safety regulations and social, health and educational programs, especially for those in need, while increasing individual and business taxes to pay for them, especially targeting those with greater wealth and power.

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By contrast, Republicans claim the mantra of getting big government off people’s backs. And it’s true that they try to eliminate or scale back regulations and social, health and educational programs while also lowering taxes — the latter typically gives back more wealth to those who are better off.

But when it comes to laws that get into people’s personal lives, there’s often a role reversal. Republicans then become the party of big government.

A Wisconsin bill going through the Republican-controlled Legislature would force women seeking an abortion to first undergo ultrasounds. Gov. Scott Walker, who supports the bill, gave this inane explanation: “I don’t have a problem with ultrasounds. I think most people understand that ultrasounds are just fine.”

Wisconsin women who wish to exercise their legal abortion right should at least be glad they don’t have Virginia’s Republicans controlling their lives. Recently those Republicans tried passing an ultrasound bill for abortion seekers that would require a vaginal probe.

Whoa, Republicans! Can’t get much more personal or intrusive then that kind of probe.

How about Florida Republican lawmakers and governor who in 2011 passed a bill — later struck down by federal courts — making it a crime for pediatricians to warn parents about the dangers of keeping a loaded gun in their home.

Telling doctors what they can tell their patients? Intrusive, personal?

Back to abortion — the truth is that this issue has long divided the country. There’s nothing wrong with opposing or trying to restrict abortion.

What’s wrong is for Republicans to brand themselves as the party of small government when, in fact, they are big government on a number of so-called social issues.

Small government adherents hold the view that government should be minimized while individual rights should be maximized, that government should defer to individuals the power to decide about their own affairs.

Here’s what a more honest Republican branding would be: Indeed, we are small government when it comes to taxes, regulations, programs and local control. But beware: We will often revert to Big Government when it comes to your civil liberties. In both cases, we think we know what’s best.

Online Poll: Did he betray country? The Journal’s online poll question this week asked: Do you think Edward Snowden, the self-professed leaker of secret surveillance documents from the National Security Agency now holed up in Hong Kong, is an American patriot or traitor?

Early results: TRAITOR, 83.3%; PATRIOT, 16.7%. Cast your vote by going to www.riverfallsjournal.com.

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