Many conservatives who stylize themselves as defenders of small government lean precariously on Reagan-era platitudes when pressed to justify their affections. Though Reagan’s alluringly demagogic 1981 decree that “government is not the solution to our problems [but rather], government is the problem” is easy to chew, its arbitrary application has led to a number of misconceptions about the role, size, and scope of “government.”
Time and again conservatives characterize those of us on the left as “large government loyalists,” as “tax and spend liberals” who “support the growth of an inefficient and parasitic public sector.” Unfortunately, the tales that conservatives use to vituperate those of on the left are as shallow as they are tall.
Let’s take a few minutes to debunk three common conservative critiques lodged against supposed “big government” sympathizers.
Myth #1: President Obama has created a “spending inferno.”
Did not Harvard Business School teach you anything, Mitt? In FY 2009—the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 18 percent from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Then, in FY 2010—the first budget overseen by President Obama—federal government outlays fell by nearly 2 percent. In FY 2011 spending rose 4.3 percent to $3.60 trillion and in FY 2012 spending is scheduled to rise 0.7 percent to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) most recent budgetary estimates. Finally in FY 2013 — the final budget of President Obama’s term — spending is ...