A few years ago, I wrote an article arguing that the chief economic difference between conservatives and liberals is that the former have strong moral a priori beliefs about the the size of government, and the latter do not:

Liberals only support larger government if they have some reason to believe that it will lead to material improvement in people's lives. Conservatives also want material improvement in people's lives, of course, but proving that their policies can produce such an outcome is a luxury, not a necessity.

Today Ross Douthat has a post suggesting that the fact that Democrats are pushing a large stimulus bill disproves my thesis. Is he saying that Democrats would deem the stimulus a success even if they discover that it fails to stimulate economic growth, merely because it has enlarged the size of government and that is a liberal end in and of itself? Does he further believe that the Obama economic team would have implemented something like a $900 billion stimulus plan even if the economy was humming along rather than facing its worst crisis since the Depression?

Because if he's not saying that, then I don't understand his point.

--Jonathan Chait