Originally published at http://lp.org

Syndicated columnist Paul Mulshine of the Newark Star-Ledger expresses his surprise today over reports the Republican Party has discovered fiscal conservatism again.

As Mulshine points out, the Libertarian Party and its 2008 presidential nominee, former congressman Bob Barr, opposed taxpayer-funded bailouts and explosive government growth back when the GOP was espousing it as bedrock principle.

More than a little miffed about Republicans suddenly painting themselves as fiscally responsible, Mulshine decided to give Congressman Barr's office a call:

"When I got him on the phone yesterday, Barr pointed out that while McCain and Obama both supported last year's bailout bill, "I was consistently and very strongly against it."

'Apparently according to the article Limbaugh has done, it was a 'wacko' position to have been against that sort of massive spending and involvement in businesses by government,' Barr said.

That sort of thing used to be considered mainstream conservatism until Bush came along, Barr noted. As for the Obama stimulus package, Barr noted that Limbaugh is not alone among the Republican Party faithful in debating how the money should be spent rather than whether it should be spent at all. Newt Gingrich also pushed that position in a recent interview.

'He didn't really criticize the spending,' Barr said of his fellow former congressman from Georgia. 'He just said if we were going to have it, then these are the questions that we need to ask. He didn't say it's ridiculous to even talk about the government trying to spend itself out of a recession.'"

You can read Paul Mulshine's column at the Star-Ledger website.