The Big Government Myth

Ronald Reagan: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Bill Clinton: “The era of big government is over.”

Hypocrisy is the name of the game when politicians deride so-called “Big Government”. Republicans are often characterized as anti-big government, free-market capitalists who believe that if you put the power in the hands of the people the people will govern themselves. Democrats are thought of as reluctant big government advocates, who are forced to over-regulate everything because the people need government to keep the playing field level; they don’t want to grow the size of the government, but circumstances dictate the need to do so.

Fact: Democrats and Republicans both LOVE big government, each in their own way. Democrats love big-government for social programs, and Republicans love big government for military spending.

Exhibit A: In his eight years in office, Ronald Reagan increased government spending by 69 percent. He increased defense spending by 92% to force a stalemate with the USSR. By 1989 the US economy was growing, and so yes the size of government spending as a percentage of the economy had indeed shrunk under Reagan–an anemic decrease from 22.2% to 21.2%. Bottom line–US government spending was over 20% of the economy when he took office and it was over 20% the day he left. Conclusion: Reagan supported “Big Government” and failed to live up to his “government is the problem” mantra.

Exhibit B: From 1993 to 2001 Bill Clinton increased government spending by 32%, including only a 4% increase in defense spending–the cold war was over and 9/11 was unimaginable at the time. But Clinton’s numbers benefit from a booming economy that equated to a government spending decrease from 21.4% to 18.5%. In my book a 2.9% decrease is a wash when you factor in the technology boom of the internet and the lack of any serious military threat. Bottom line: Clinton’s government spent more than his predecessors, just like Reagan.

W increased government spending by 68% including a 126% increase in defense spending, and Obama’s spending is scraping almost 22% of the economy–so they are both infected by Big Government-itis.

Here’s the point: with over 300,000,000 people under its responsibility, the US Federal Government needs to spend money so that we have a well-protected, well-served, functioning American way of life. Democrats and Republicans pointing fingers at each other does no good because both sides are guilty. Got an enemy? Spend money on the military. Got a bad economy? Spend money so the whole ship doesn’t sink. Big government is only bad when it wastes money, but that is why we have elections–if you don’t like the stewardship of your tax dollars then elect someone else with better fiscal principals. The size of government is not the issue, it’s the management of the government we should be concerned with. When you put it in that context, as long as it takes care of the problem there is nothing terribly wrong with big-government spending.

But there is something terribly wrong with big-government bullshit.

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2 Responses to “The Big Government Myth”

  1. ttaylordude Says:

    Amen. Keep it up. Perhaps we will one day get a party in office that represents the Americans who have no lobbyists – about 98% of us.

  2. votingmad Says:

    Thanks for reading Terry!

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