On Monday, Pew released a poll demonstrating that most Americans now want a bigger government with more services rather than a smaller government with fewer services. The poll, as reported by Allahpundit at Hot Air, shows that Americans now want more spending on programs ranging from veterans benefits and services to infrastructure, from Medicare to health care, from defense to environmental protection, from Social Security to assistance to the needy. Public opinion on every single aspect of government spending has shifted in the direction of bigger government since February 2013.
As Allahpundit points out:
In 2013, just 28 percent of GOPers supported increased spending on roads and infrastructure versus 21 percent who wanted less spending on those things. Today the share of Republicans who support increased spending has nearly doubled to 55 percent, just six points behind Democrats.
Indeed, the great move in the polls comes not from Democrats but from Republicans, who now seem willing to embrace big government because President Obama isn’t in charge. That reflects poorly on Republicans, who maintained through the Tea Party that smaller government was an issue of principle, not convenience.
Was it? There are two possible answers. First, that Republicans weren’t all that concerned with spending until Obama arrived on the scene, and they don’t care about it now that he’s gone; second, that Republicans have internalized the Democratic talking point that they can’t win without spending big dollars on particular interest groups.
Either way, smaller government comes out the loser.
And this isn’t Trump’s fault – it’s the fault of Republicans who supported his program. Trump, despite his promises to cut regulations and fight waste, fraud, and abuse, campaigned as a big government anti-immigration protectionist. He vowed to increase spending in every area but foreign aid and environmental protection. His most ardent followers knew that he was promising them the help of big government, and they embraced it. Trump spent the campaign guaranteeing that he wouldn’t touch the great drivers of America’s debt, entitlement programs – in fact, he said he wanted to expand them.
This is the difference between George W. Bush and Trump. Bush, too, blew out spending. But much of his base opposed him for doing so. Not so with Trump: he has made the case that he needs to spend in order to win the votes of those in swing states, and many Republicans have signed on. They’re doing so either out of hypocrisy or out of the pure political calculation that the day of small government is done, so we might as well have a Republican running a massive government. In either case, that’s a bleak denouement for a movement built on the back of Ronald Reagan’s foundational belief that government is the problem.