Remember how a few months ago, business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers were ready to jump into the battles over judical nominations?
John M. Engler, the former Republican governor of Michigan who now heads the National Association of Manufacturers, vowed before the November elections to use his trade association's might to back President Bush's judicial nominees. But as the Senate showdown approaches, the business group is delivering a different message: Judges are not its fight.
NAM's decision to sit out the brawl may be indicative of a broader trend. From Wall Street to Main Street, the small-government, pro-business mainstay of the Republican Party appears to be growing disaffected with a party it sees as focused on social issues at its expense.
Yes folks, there seems to be trouble in paradise:
Economic conservatives grew restless during the first Bush term, when federal budget surpluses turned to yawning deficits, federal spending soared and the Republican-controlled Congress passed a Medicare drug benefit that marked the largest new federal entitlement since Lyndon B. Johnson was president.OK, if you're that unhappy guys, here's my advice: Go out and form a third party.
Concern eased after the 2004 election. The president's stated priorities were to control spending, address Social Security's long-term financing problems and simplify the tax code. But since then, the drive to restructure Social Security has stalled. Efforts to rein in federal spending have been upended by a highway bill that exceeds Bush's promised price tag and a budget resolution passed Congress that rebuffed the toughest entitlement cuts demanded by the White House.
Instead, Washington's focus has shifted from fiscal issues to more narrow concerns backed vociferously by social conservatives: the Terri Schiavo case, the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations and, most of all, the fate of the Senate's ability to filibuster judicial nominees.