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44 The Obama Presidency

Obama Bets Big on Big Government

By Chris Cillizza
President-elect Barack Obama enunciated his vision for an activist -- and expansive -- government as the best way to address the economic crisis in a speech this morning, and in the process placed a major bet that the majority of Americans' attitude toward government has changed drastically in recent years.

"Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy -- where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending," said Obama during his economic address at George Mason University -- a stunning rejection of then President Bill Clinton's 1996 declaration in his State of the Union address that "the era of big government is over."

To be sure, Obama offered several caveats to his pledge to grow government (and government spending) to heal the economy. "We cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth," Obama said.

Later, he sought to address concerns that more government spending to fix the economy amounted to throwing good money after bad.

"I understand that some might be skeptical of this plan," said Obama. "Our government has already spent a good deal of money but we haven't yet seen that translate into more jobs or higher incomes or renewed confidence in our economy."

Caveats aside, it's clear that Obama and his political team believe that the less-government-is-best mantra that, more than any other single idea, fueled Republicans' rise at the presidential level and congressional level over the last three decades has been debunked in the minds of voters.

Continue reading at The Fix»

Posted at 2:36 PM ET on Jan 8, 2009  | Category:  44 The Obama Presidency
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