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The Ever-Growing Government: Just Another Long Day’s Journey Into Night?

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Posted on August 30 2010 10:00 pm

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In the wake of the successful Tea Party rally in DC, small(er) government proponents can be forgiven for a sense of heightened optimism about the future. While the Glenn Beck rally was light on politics, its audience knew why they were there. But halting, let alone reversing, the massive federal and state bureaucracies will require enormous and persistent political will by the populace. Is there enough consistency of opinion within this nation to slow the growth of government? Let’s hope we get the opportunity to find out. But it’s usually the other guy’s handout we want to abolish, not our own.

It is easy and correct to critique the performance of Obama and his cohorts in Congress. They have extended the relative size of government as well as its regulatory reach beyond any of their predecessors since FDR. These have combined to create a virtual Rubik’s Cube maze which business, especially small business, will be compelled to navigate. This diminishes wealth for all in the name of fairness for all. Obama’s Rasputin, Rahm Emanuel, was tactically accurate when he said “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste”, particularly when it was so easy, in the public’s eye at least, to pin the crisis on Bush and Company.

The good news is they only succeeded in passing 2 out of 3 of their primary initiatives (Stimulus, ObamaCare, but not Cap and Trade), even if public opinion caught up with the ruse before the health care bill passed.  As “President” Jack Nicholson once said in the prescient movie parody of the current administration, Mars Attacks, “that’s {still} 2 out of 3, and that ain’t bad”. Obama’s budget spending is north of 25% of GDP, the highest since WW II. Those who believe the government is as efficient as the private sector (“justice” adjusted), may think this is not a problem. But an increasing amount of people correctly recognize its dangers.

While the Obamacrats have raised the bar of fiscal irresponsibility to all time highs by any measure, (with the assistance of the Bush Administration in the Fall of 2008), the history of the Republican Party in slowing or limiting government’s growth is not better than the Democrats. I think it is helpful to read that sentence again. Henry Kissinger’s great line about University politics (“the politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small”) is unfortunately applicable to national politics. The differences of opinion are really around the margins, at least as it relates to outcomes if not ideology. Federal expenditures as a percent of GDP have been as likely to be as high under Republican administrations as Democrat.

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