Fiscal conservatism is the economic philosophy of
prudence in government spending and debt. Edmund Burke, in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, argued that a government does not have the right to run up large debts and then throw the burden on the taxpayer:
It is to the property of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor of the state, that the first and original faith of civil society is pledged. The claim of the citizen is prior in time, paramount in title, superior in equity. The fortunes of individuals, whether possessed by acquisition or by descent or in virtue of a participation in the goods of some community, were no part of the creditor's security, expressed or implied.. The public, whether represented by a monarch or by a senate, can pledge nothing but the public estate; and it can have no public estate except in what it derives from a just and proportioned imposition upon the citizens at large
Most conservatives, especially in the United States, believe that government action should focus on moral and social questions and oppose government action to help the poor, to regulate the economy, or to protect the environment. They believe that government programs that seek to provide services and opportunities for the poor actually encourage dependence and reduce self-reliance. They oppose affirmative action. They oppose a progressive income tax.