Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Big Government is OUR fault?

Apparently, there is a case to be made for it:

What Made the U.S. Government So Big?
If you're going to argue that the size of government is the defining debate in modern politics, you should probably explain why the government is so big. It's not because of new laws. It's because of old laws.

David Brooks latest column argued that "as government grew," moderates and independents recoiled and conservatives revolted. Brooks is right that people are angry. Four out of five Americans don't trust the government according to a new Pew poll, the highest level of public dissatisfaction in history. But that anger has much more to do with the recession -- plus a dash of complex conservative angst -- than with Obama's new spending initiatives.


In short, our government is growing because of what past presidents have promised and voters have consistently supported at the polls: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Federal Unemployment Tax Act. Clive Crook put it nicely: "Big Government is no longer a prospect to ward off. That choice has been made."

That statement is powerful, and it has at least two implications. First, we need to stop pretending that Democrats suddenly "have become the government party." Every party is the government party when it controls the government.

Second, now that we've made the Big Government choice, we have to pay for it. The David Brookses of the world need to explain to Americans that this isn't about Obama. It's about all of us, collectively, making decades of promises that we haven't promised to pay for. We will need new taxes, or dramatic and potentially painful reforms to our entitlement programs. That is where this debate should be.

I'm afraid that it's all too true that people are only worried about big government now because the economy is in bad shape. But it's still true that we can't keep spending money we do not have. We have to get spending under control. The government needs to stop wasting money. It's the wrong time to be expanding government even further, unless your goal is to collapse our economy and destroy our political system.

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