Hardly anyone would dispute the validity of the term “small-government conservative,” but “big-government liberal” is a horse of a different color, believes Steve Benen, a producer for MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. Benen claims that while right-wingers’ preference for small government is ideologically driven, “progressives” such as President Obama look at size-of-government issues in practical and quantifiable terms.
“I don’t know any progressives who gloat over increases in the federal payroll or the government share of GDP,” wrote Benen in a Tuesday post for the TRMS web site. “Progressives have things they want the government to do – like guaranteeing health care. Size per se doesn’t matter. But people on the right apparently can’t get that.”
Benen’s peg was a statement from Obama during a recent White House reception for the National Governors Association: “This idea that somehow I get a kick out of big government is just not the case…Even on some of the big regulations…they’re not issued unless we think that the benefits substantially outweigh the costs. And we have the numbers to prove it. So for those of you who think that I’m just a big government, crazy liberal…we crunch some numbers around here.”
From Benen’s post (bolding added):
I haven’t seen any reactions to the president’s remarks from congressional Republicans or the GOP presidential candidates, but I suspect they would scoff. They know in their bones, reality be damned, that the Obama White House has expanded economy-crushing regulations that strangle free enterprise and prevent robust growth.
And how did they arrive at this conclusion? Because Obama is a Democrat, and that’s just what Democrats do…
On the right, people are for smaller government as a matter of principle – smaller government for its own sake. And so they naturally imagine that their opponents must be their mirror image, wanting bigger government as a goal in itself.
But it’s not true. I don’t know any progressives who gloat over increases in the federal payroll or the government share of GDP. Progressives have things they want the government to do – like guaranteeing health care. Size per se doesn’t matter. But people on the right apparently can’t get that…
Love him or hate him, Barack Obama is a pragmatic technocrat. He doesn’t support a larger public sector just for the sake of having a larger public sector. He doesn’t support more spending just for the sake of spending more. He doesn’t support taxes for the sake of taxes. And he doesn’t regulate just for the sake of regulating. All available evidence suggests the president is looking for ways to solve problems he believes deserve remedies.