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The Republican party is definitely one of social conservativism, taking stands against Gay Marriage, Abortion etc. However, they are not necessarily a party of fiscal conservatism (six out of the ten largest earmarks in the stimulus package went to Republican districts).
Rather, the difference between the parties is merely spending priorities. Republicans want a big military and supply-side corporate welfare, while Democrats want health care and education. Oddly enough, because of the spending perception, Democratic administrations tend to cut spending, while Republican administrations tend to increase it.
I’ll also point out that in government it’s not so clear cut what is necessary and what is excess. Some may call public education a keystone in providing equal opportunity for all, while others might call it a waste of taxpayer dollars.]]>