American Morning

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January 21st, 2010
06:18 AM ET

Is bigger government better?

By Carol Costello and Bob Ruff

The size and role of government, not surprisingly, has been a popular subject of presidential inaugural speeches.

Remember JFK in 1961? “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

And Ronald Reagan 20 years later: “….government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Bill Clinton said this in 1993: “It is time to break the bad habit of expecting something for nothing from our government or from each other.”

And one year ago Barack Obama picked up the government theme in his inaugural address: “The question… today is not whether our government is too big or small, but whether it works.”

What’s interesting is that no matter what each man said about government, government itself just kept on growing. Even conservative President George Bush, from 2001 to 2009, presided over the largest dollar increases in regulatory spending in decades, according to George Mason University.

We went over to the Office of the Federal Register in Washington, DC., to the building where the government stores all the books that list and explain every Federal regulation. The rows and rows of packed shelves are testament to the breadth and depth of government involvement in our lives. In 1951 there were just 41 volumes of regulations. Today there are 222 volumes containing 160,000 pages.

We asked Mr. Libertarian, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), who ran for president on a platform of small government, what he thought about all this spending and regulation.

“Government always grows,” he told us. “You never see any years where you have less employees (or) the budget actually shrinks. It just doesn’t happen.”

Why does it keep growing?


Filed under: Politics
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