The First Rule of Liberalism

The ongoing classical liberal debate in the U.S. regarding the size and role of government

It is a fact that the issue of appropriate size and role of government in the United States has sometimes sparked angry debate. Though many of President Obama’s speeches, have hinted that he is not in support of a big government; to him what the government can do for his people overrides any debate about the proper size of government, whether big or small. President Obama has presented his policies and proposals to the American people, and let them judge them based on merit. Republicans are known to always attack a big government as if US politics is about liberals in support of big governments and the republicans who are against it. Their opposition is ironical because, it is under the past republican governments that government size has grown immensely.

Liberals on the other hand, do not just support a big government for the sake of supporting. Instead, they support certain government policies, and whatever government size is required to implement such policies, they will accept. Among the liberals themselves, there are those who readily accept big governments than others. Irrespective of the various views of liberals on the size of the government, one thing is for sure; a majority of them are in support of what the government can do for its people and the fundamental principles they hold.  Numerous disputes have risen between modern and classical liberals on the bill of rights. Some liberals who support a big government question the need of a limited government that does not respect the rights of its people or one that does not offer economic liberty to its citizens (Chusid n. pag.). From the ongoing debate, it is clear that the Republicans are against a big government and they are pushing for a cut in the government size. On the other hand, liberals care more about what the government can do for its people irrespective of its size.

The following articles from the Wall Street Journal show the ongoing debate concerning size and role of government.

a)The First Rule of Liberalism, Government failure always justifies more government, by James Taranto July 11, 2011.

The article talks about the failed stimulus package, titled, Recovery Act of 2009, which was enacted when President Obama took office. The stimulus was worth, $ 800 billion, fifty times more than the proposed stimulus by Bill Clinton ($ 16B), at the beginning of his presidential term. Despite the stimulus being too expensive, it failed to accomplish its objective of preventing unemployment rate from growing past 8%. Unemployment rate was standing at 7.6%, when President Obama joined office; after the introduction of the stimulus, it rose to 10.2 percent by October, 2009. Unemployment rate in June this year (2011) was at 9.2%, which is still far much higher than the intended figure.

According to the author of this article, this failure is squarely blamed on the big size of the government. This article’s view is in agreement with the republicans, who have constantly attacked and opposed big government. They believe that when the size of the government is cut, the government spending will go down as well.

b)Obama: Congress Needs to Act on Economy

By Jared A. Favole * August 13, 2011

This article talks about President Obama’s weekly radio address to Americans, where he was saying that the Americans are hurting badly due to the high rate of unemployment. He asked the Congress to move past their political brinkmanship and prioritize passing of the proposals that will help jerk the economy, from the slow growth witnessed in the recent past. This article is about the role of the government. From the current debate in the US, irrespective of size, the government should put its citizens first, working hard to meet it citizens’ needs.

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