Five Republicans have won the presidency since 1932: Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushes. Only Reagan was even close to being a small-government conservative. And he campaigned in 1980 more as a tax-cutter and national-defense-builder-upper, and less as a small-government enthusiast in the mold of the man he had supported — and who had lost — in 1964, Barry Goldwater. And Reagan’s record as governor and president wasn’t a particularly government-slashing one. Even the G.O.P.’s 1994 Contract With America made only vague promises to eliminate the budget deficit, and proposed no specific cuts in government programs.
Tiny correction – any fall in nondefense Federal spending under Reagan was offset by the increase in defense spending with the ratio of Federal spending to GDP being unchanged during the Reagan years as President. So Reagan did not cut taxes – he deferred taxes. But let’s fast forward to what Kristol would do with Federal spending today:
Similarly, if you’re against big government, you’ll oppose a huge public works stimulus package. If you think some government action is inevitable, you might instead point out that the most unambiguous public good is national defense ... Obama wants to spend much of the stimulus on transportation infrastructure and schools. Fine, but lots of schools and airports seem to me to have been refurbished more recently and more generously than military bases I’ve visited.
Kristol in other words opposes government investment in schools and roads but supports spending on items that would at best not be used and at worst kill people and destroy infrastructure – obviously inconsistent with long-term growth or credible supply-side economics!