Anthony Gregory points out that, despite their rhetoric, "conservatives" really don't like the free market:
I forget exactly when it happened, but at some point I realized that conservatives are not actually pro-free market at all. Yes, they are not as overtly communistic and anti-private property as the left, but they do not truly grasp the moral and economic mandate that is the free market capitalistic economy.
It was sometime in the late 1990s that it finally hit me: The Republicans all support the New Deal. They don't oppose federal regulation of business, the national welfare state, the idea that central planning can trick or bully the people into being more productive than they otherwise would be.
How many Republicans politicians understand and oppose the FDR legacy? They all love the American empire he built, of course, the creation of the murderous US nuke arsenal, the ushering in of a 60-year foreign policy of uninterrupted intervention and war. But they also favor the domestic side. (Remember, it was in fact Republican Herbert Hoover who truly started the New Deal.) Even the best Reaganites only promised to take on the Great Society — the Gipper himself was a Hollywood New Dealer unionist, and his love of FDR has been echoed in policy and rhetoric in all the modern Republicans. Bob Dole loved him. Bush, McCain, Giuliani, Romney — no one at the national level but Ron Paul is anti-New Deal.
In one of my first LRC articles, I asked, Would Pro-War Libertarians Have Supported the New Deal? Well, since then, a pro-war faction in the movement has explicitly carved out a new agenda for the 21st century: big-government libertarianism, a philosophy that embraces the underlying premises of state central planning -- support for regulation against climate change, programs against pandemics and robust anti-terrorism policies.
If you think the government can end domestic sin, protect the family and preserve the social fabric and, ultimately, eradicate global evil – as many conservatives do — or if you think the state can liberate the world, stop terrorists, and protect us from natural and man-made crisis — as some so-called libertarians do — why not trust the state to run or at least boost the economy? I'm not the least surprised that Democrats, Huckabee, McCain or nearly any other mainstream politico would favor government to aid the economy right now. The New Deal itself was child's play compared to what many supposed free-marketers advocate.