The party may be over for big government fans.
According to a just-released Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll a majority of Americans (56 percent) agree with the statement: “The economic and political systems in the country are stacked against people like me.” As the Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman explains:
This disillusionment index has been rising for more than a decade and coincides with an explosion in the size of the federal government.
The Journal’s Neil King notes that “alienation has built steadily since 2002, when just over a third of Americans felt the system was stacked against them.” Coincidentally, 2002 marked the first time in U.S. history in which overall federal spending topped $2 trillion. That seemed like a huge number at the time. But the feds spent $3.5 trillion in the fiscal year that ended in September and the President is hoping this year’s total can approach $4 trillion.
Spending as a percentage of GDP had been rising long before the Obama Administration—including significant expenditures devoted to the War on Terror, Freeman notes. Yet during the first year of Obama’s presidency, government spending reached 24 percent of GDP—the highest proportionally since World War II.
Clearly, Americans don’t believe they’re getting their money’s worth from big government, as Freeman concludes:
…all that government isn’t persuading Americans that they’re getting a fair shot—just the opposite.
The last time Americans had this little faith in the country’s political and economic systems was for a brief period in 1992, in the aftermath of President George H.W. Bush’s breaking of his no-new-taxes pledge in a deal with Congressional Democrats that enabled more spending.
Elsewhere, WSJ’s John Cochrane concludes that what Americans want is more opportunity, not more government:
Prosperity should be our goal. And the secrets of prosperity are simple and old-fashioned: property rights, rule of law, economic and political freedom. A limited government providing competent institutions. Confiscatory taxation and extensive government control of incomes are not on the list.
Our government certainly has a constitutional role to play—but that role is not micromanaging every facet of our lives.