..there are sound reasons why a conservative would support a welfare state. Historically, it has been conservatives like the 19th century chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, who established the welfare state in Europe. They did so because masses of poor people create social instability and become breeding grounds for radical movements.
In postwar Europe, conservative parties were the principal supporters of welfare-state policies in order to counter efforts by socialists and communists to abolish capitalism altogether. The welfare state was devised to shave off the rough edges of capitalism and make it sustainable. Indeed, the conservative icon Winston Churchill was among the founders of the British welfare state....
American conservatives routinely assert that the people of Europe live in virtual destitution because of their swollen welfare states. But according to a commonly accepted index of life satisfaction, many heavily taxed European countries rank well above the United States....The New York Times | Economix
A Conservative Case for the Welfare State
(h/t Mark Thoma at Economist's View)
Historically, the conservative bugaboo, "Keynesianism.," was designed as the capitalist backstop against the rising tide of socialism and communism. Get rid of "the welfare state" and reap the whirlwind.