USA Today, which touts itself as the "The Nation's Newspaper," devoted just nine paragraphs on page 3A of the April 16 paper to the roughly 800 Tea Parties held nationwide yesterday.
By contrast, on Tax Day morning, readers of April 15 USA Today, some of whom probably reading USA Today over breakfast, were greeted with a front page story that was six times longer and insisted that "Most Americans OK with Big Government, at least for now."
WASHINGTON — Most Americans say they're glad Big Government is back to help through hard times. But they aren't sure they want it to stay.
The Obama administration, trying to reverse the economy's meltdown and prevent it from happening again, is redefining the role of the federal government in the economy — spending trillions of dollars, building new regulatory systems for financial institutions and effectively taking over a major part of the automobile industry.
USA Today staffer Susan Page noted the evolution of public sentiment about big government over time, quoting Reagan from his 1981 inaugural address and even conceding that a majority of Americans are concerned about the size and scope of the federal government (emphasis mine):
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," he said in his 1981 inaugural address, delivered during a time of economic upheaval.
That year, Americans by more than 2-to-1 said "Big Government," not "big business," was the larger threat. Anti-government sentiment helped sweep Republicans into control of Congress in 1995. In his State of the Union address in 1996, Democrat President Clinton declared, "The era of Big Government is over."
By the time George W. Bush was elected president in 2000, Big Government was seen as a larger threat than big business by nearly 3-to-1.
Now the tide has turned, at least a bit. Reports of corporate excess and malfeasance have fueled suspicion of corporate America, and eagerness to have government turn around the economy has reduced the number who view it as a threat.
Even so, by 55% to 32% Americans still say they worry more about Big Government, a concern that Republicans have tapped in opposing Obama's programs as too costly and wrongheaded, even dangerous. Rep. Spencer Bachus told a hometown audience in Alabama on Thursday that 17 members of Congress were "socialists" who were pushing Obama to the left.
Page went on to note that many Americans don't favor big government all the time. Many Americans are simply trusting that growing the government can be a short-term fix to jumpstart the economy.
That's where another Reagan quote may have come in handy:
No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments' programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth.