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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

President Obama Embraces Big Government: Thinking Fourth Dimensionally II

Politics is full of moments that seem inconsequential at the time but later on take on meaning no one could have predicted. When the banner "Mission Accomplished" hung in back of President Bush on the carrier, that was one such moment. No one made much mention of it immediately following his speech and yet that became the symbol of everything wrong with the Iraq War eventually. President Obama may have provided his opponents with one such moment last night.

only government” can provide the solution to the country’s economic ills. Doing too little or nothing will lead to worse trouble, he warned. Government is the answer.

Never has a politician been so upfront and direct in their support for the expansion of government. Normally, politicians expand government by bemoaning ills that plague the nation and in a backhanded way support the expansion of government. Here, President Obama has embraced government as the solution. This is of course the diametrical opposite of Ronald Reagan's philosophy as he famously said

the nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help'

If this stimulus doesn't work as he has promised, you will, and frankly had better, use these very words to hang President Obama. In fact, this stimulus will once and for all be a referendum on expanded government. If we ease out of the recession and see economic growth, it will usher in an era of big government that will have no immediate shelf life. If it is seen as a failure, it will also mean that big government is seen as a failure.

President Obama has said that it isn't bigger or smaller government, but rather better government. Yet, the next election will be defined one of two ways. Either bigger government will be seen as better government or as worse government. That will ultimately be determined by whether or not the stimulus will be seen as working. Furthermore, the direction of our government will be defined by this for years to come.

The Republicans will then be left with an opening to run on fiscal conservatism, small government, and lower taxes. President Obama made an off handed remark, but it will be a remark that will come to define the 2010 election. It had better be a remark that the Republicans remember when it comes time for that campaign.

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