Commentary Magazine


More Limited Than What?

Just when we thought “limited government” was one of those failed ideas and losing political catch phrases, there seems to be a lot of talk about whether it really is wise to radically expand the size and scope of government. There is nothing like an extreme pro-statist administration to get politicians of both parties (as well as some pundits) ruminating about just how much government can take on.

It’s not just Republicans in Congress who are raising concerns. This news report explains:

Government spending on most domestic programs is growing at its fastest pace in nearly 30 years, and a lot of worried Democrats are seeking ways to rewrite and reduce the size of President Barack Obama’s budget proposals.

Republicans are more blunt, but their message and that of the Blue Dogs is surprisingly similar: stop spending so much! Sen. Kent Conrad sounds indistinguishable from Judd Gregg or John Boehner when he says: “When I look at this budget, I see the debt doubling again, and that gives me great concern.”

And the same concern is raised from a different angle as observers begin to ask whether Obama appointees are stretched too thin.  Realistically, if the administration had twice as many confirmed appointees the problem would be the same since they are “crafting sweeping changes to the country’s energy sector, education and health-care systems, and tax policies.” Yes, it takes a lot of people to reinvent the entire society. And it is very hard to manage.

The limited government argument never gets very far when discussed in a vacuum. And certainly government has steadily grown in size over the last few decades. But if the question is “Do you want a more limited government than the one Obama is proposing?” then the consensus appears to be “yes.” That explains why the president must conceal his intentions behind absurd pronouncements, such as supposedly not caring for big government and not wanting to spend all that money.

On that issue he’s brought a lot of Americans together. More Americans every day  are discovering that bigger and bigger government and greater spending may not be the right way to go.