Spalding traces the roots of American progressives to German thinkers who believed in the "Administrative State." Here, government is controlled by administrators and "experts," rather than officials elected to represent the people. Spalding also notes that the Founders and the progressives differed in their view of the Constitution. Progressives believed in a "...
Contemporary Quotes on Growth of Government
"One measure of government growth is federal expenditures per capita. ... In the early years of the United States, the federal government spent about $30 per person annually. By the 1910s, government expenditures per capita were about $129, or slightly more than four times the 1792 level. In 2004, the federal government spent $7,100 per capita, nearly 55 times more than was spent per capita in the 1910s. Spending growth did slow in the mid-1980s and actually decreased in the mid-1990s. By the year 2000, however, per capita spending increased once again."
"Another measure of the size of the federal government is the number of cabinet departments. Eight cabinet departments were created from 1788 to 1952. Since 1953, there have been an additional eight cabinet departments established."
"Per capita state government spending after accounting for inflation had been flat or falling during the 10 years before women began voting. But state governments started expanding the first year after women voted and continued growing until within 11 years real per capita spending had more than doubled. The increase in government spending and revenue started immediately after women started voting.
Yet, as suggestive as these facts are, we must still consider whether suffrage itself caused the growth in government, or did the government expand due to some political or social change that accompanied women's right to vote?
Fortunately, there was a unique aspect of suffrage that allows us to answer this question: Of the 19 states that had not passed women's suffrage before the approval of the 19th Amendment, nine approved the amendment, while the other 12 had suffrage imposed on them.
If some unknown factor caused both a desire for larger government and women's suffrage, then government should have only grown in states that voluntarily adopted suffrage. This, however, is not the case: After approving women's suffrage, a similar growth in government was seen in both groups of states."
"Women's suffrage also explains much of the federal government's growth from the 1920s to the 1960s. In the 45 years after the adoption of suffrage, as women's voting rates gradually increased until finally reaching the same level as men's, the size of state and federal governments expanded as women became an increasingly important part of the electorate."
"This is a pivotal moment for America's economy. Problems that originated in the credit markets and first showed up in the area of subprime mortgages have spread throughout our financial system. This has led to an erosion of confidence that has frozen many financial transactions, including loans to consumers and to businesses seeking to expand and create jobs.
As a result, the Government is acting to protect our Nation's economic health from serious risk. Our free enterprise system rests on the conviction that the Federal Government should intervene in the marketplace only when necessary. Given the precarious state of our financial markets and their vital importance to the daily lives of the American people, Government intervention is not only warranted, it is essential.
In recent weeks, the Federal Government has taken a series of targeted measures designed primarily to stop the problems of individual firms from spreading more broadly, but more action is needed. We must address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets. America's economy is facing unprecedented challenges, and we're responding with unprecedented action."
"The popular economic case against big government, including the more moderate Democratic version, does not stand up to the evidence. Big-government and high-tax nations do not grow systematically more slowly than nations with lower government spending as a proportion of the economy and lower tax rates. More precisely, big-government and high-tax nations elsewhere simply do not in the real world automatically undermine the capacity to produce more for an extra hour of work— its productivity."
"Without an active government, a nation cannot respond adequately to its times. If it does not respond to new conditions, both economic growth and the ability to retain a nation's values will suffer. In the laboratory of the real world, the governments of rich nations have on balance been central to economic growth, and in the process have retained their citizens' faith in their nations' promise and social values."
"It is not that big government is to be encouraged in and of itself. What we know is that nations with bigger governments have not as a rule grown more slowly than those with relatively smaller governments; to the contrary, they have sometimes grown faster. That can only be the case because their spending programs on balance enhance rather than detract from growth, fill the many gaps that markets cannot, and that regulations on balance make markets work better and minimize abuse and corruption. This rather easily demonstrable fact is but a heresy in modern America."
"Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a limited federal government existed in the United States. The federal government had essentially no involvement in regulating the private sector and few goods were provided publicly, even during times of war and economic contraction. At the same time, taxes at the national level were few and tax rates remained relatively low. However, a limited federal government did not last. The twentieth century saw increased federal government regulation, the creation of new agencies, the expansion of existing agencies, the implementation of new taxes, increases in existing taxes, and an increase in government spending.
The dramatic growth in government spending started at the beginning of the Great Depression. For example, annual federal government per capita spending averaged $125 from 1792 to 1929 with no trend increase. However, real federal government per capita spending rose from roughly $250 in 1930 to nearly $9,200 in 2007. ... In addition, federal government spending rose from 3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 1929 to over 24 percent of GDP by 2009. The high level of unemployment, the decrease in national income, and the falling price level during the Great Depression seemingly caused the federal government to intervene to resolve this crisis."
"In the 1890s a series of recessions neared the severity of the Great Depression and yet there was virtually no response by the federal government. The average annual increase in per capita government spending was 3.3 percent in the 1890s and 12.1 percent in the 1930s. The total percentage increase in per capita government spending was 28 percent for the 1890s and 131 percent for the 1930s. Clearly, something in the United States during the 1930s differed from conditions in the 1890s that spurred the federal government to react to the economic downturn."
"But I think there's an alternate explanation that may better account for the growth of government and also show why that growth is so hard to stop. While aid for vulnerable groups obviously drives a lot of government spending, we could lift every American, young or old, above the poverty line with government transfers of around 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Yet the federal government today spends more than 25 percent of GDP. Big government isn't generated by caring for the truly poor; after all, despite spending 25 times more than needed to fill the poverty gap, we nevertheless leave millions in poverty. Rather, rising pension and health spending on middle- and upper-class Americans—principally through the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs—is the true fiscal burden and the largest imposition on personal choice and freedom. Without these three programs, the current size of government would be much smaller and the dangers of future fiscal catastrophe due to rising spending and debt would be all but eliminated."
"A society that does not recognize that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom.
Once wide coercive powers are given to governmental agencies for particular purposes, such powers cannot be effectively controlled by democratic assemblies."
"The last thing our economy needs is cuts in public spending. 'Cut, cap, and balance' is not an economic growth strategy, it's a job-destroying agenda."
"Policymakers have a choice in front of them. They can create jobs. It is within their power. History shows us what works. We only need the will to take the right steps forward."
"First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don't — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation."
"So yes, debt matters. But right now, other things matter more. We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way."
"I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more."
"Though federal power has grown steadily since President Washington took the oath of office, today the relationship between the individual and the government is changing in a qualitative way. Americans are increasingly the subjects of an administrative regime rather than the free citizens of a democratic republic with a limited government."
"See, the job of a President is to lay the foundation for strong and sustainable broad-based growth -- not one where a small group of speculators are cashing in on short-term gains. It's to make sure that everybody in this country gets a fair shake -- (applause) -- everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is playing by the same set of rules."
"Government -- we have to acknowledge government can't solve all our problems and it shouldn't try. ...
Not every regulation is smart, not every tax dollar is spent wisely, not every person can be helped who refuses to help themselves. But that's not an excuse to tell the vast majority of hardworking, responsible Americans they're on their own; that unless you're lucky to have parents who can lend you the money, you may not be able to go to college; that even if you pay your premiums every month, you may be out of luck if an insurance company decides to drop your coverage just when you need it most. (Applause.)
That's not who we are. That's not how we built America. We built this country together. The Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, GI Bill, the moon landing, the Internet -- we did those things together. Not to make some small group rich, not to help any single individual, but because we knew that if we made those investments it would provide a framework, a platform for everybody to do well, for everybody to succeed. That's the true lesson of our past. (Applause.) That's the right vision for our future. And that's why I'm running for President of the United States. (Applause.)
I'm running to make sure that by the end of this decade, more of our citizens hold a college degree than any other nation on Earth. (Applause.) I want to help our schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially in math and science. (Applause.) I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges and learn skills that local businesses are looking for right now. (Applause.) Higher education can't be a luxury -- it is a necessity, and I want everybody to be able to afford it. (Applause.)
That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for President."
"Now, listen, the debt and the deficit are serious problems and it is true that the depth of the recession added to the debt. A lot more folks were looking for unemployment insurance. A lot fewer folks were paying taxes because they weren't making money, so that added to the debt. Our efforts to prevent it from becoming a depression -- helping the auto industry, making sure that not as many teachers were laid off -- all those things added to the debt.
But what my opponent didn't tell you was that federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest pace of any President in almost 60 years. ...
So now I want to finish the job –- yes, by streamlining government -- we've got more work to do; yes, by cutting more waste; but also by reforming our tax code so that it is simpler and fairer, and so that it asks the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more."
"Superimposed on the century-long trend to bigger government—measured by size, scope, and power—are several episodes of extraordinarily rapid growth associated with crises, especially the two world wars and the Great Depression. Although much of the wartime expansion of government was reversed when the wars ended, not all of it was, and thus each episode had a 'ratchet effect,' lifting the size of government to a permanently higher level. Wartime expansions of government power tended to become lodged in the statute books, administrative decisions, and judicial rulings, and these legacies fostered the growth of government even during peacetime. ... Moreover, crisis-driven changes in the prevailing ideology supported greater long-term growth of government. Many who had opposed 'big government' in the United States as late as 1930, for example, became convinced by the fifteen years of activist government during the Great Depression and World War II that government should play a much larger role in economic affairs. One upshot was the Employment Act of 1946, by which the federal government pledged itself to continuing management of the national economy."
"Crises promoted the growth of government in other countries, as well. During both world wars, all the belligerents adopted extraordinary measures of economic control to mobilize resources and place them at the government’s disposal for war purposes. These measures included price, wage, and rent controls; inflationary increases in the money stock; physical allocations of raw materials and commodities; conscription of labor; industrial takeovers; rationing of consumer goods and transportation services; financial and exchange controls; vast increases in government spending and employment; and increased tax rates and the imposition of new kinds of taxation. ...
The Great Depression elicited similar responses, especially in the United States under Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Many current welfare-state and regulatory institutions—the Social Security system, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, to name but a few—originated with the New Deal. Later crises, such as the social and political turbulence associated with the civil rights revolution and the Vietnam War between the early 1960s and the early 1970s, likewise contributed significantly to the expansion of the welfare state, spawning, for example, Medicare, Medicaid, and a host of welfare, antidiscrimination, and environmental regulatory programs that remain in force today."
"In the nineteenth century, a number of interrelated 'modernizing' changes began to accelerate: industrialization, urbanization, the relative decline of agricultural output and employment, and a variety of significant improvements in transportation and communication. As these developments proceeded, masses of people, though made better off in the long run, experienced tremendous changes in their way of life. In response, they sought government assistance in order to gain from, or at least to minimize their losses from, the social and economic transformations that swept them along.
The ongoing structural changes altered the perceived costs and benefits of collective action for all sorts of latent special-interest groups. Thus, for example, the gathering of large workforces in urban factories, mills, and commercial facilities created greater potential for the successful organization of labor unions and working-class political parties. New means of transportation and communication—the railroad and the telegraph, later the telephone and the automobile—reduced the costs of organizing agrarian protest movements and agrarian populist political parties. Urbanization created new demands for government provision of infrastructure such as paved streets, lighting, sewerage, and pure water supply. All such events tended to alter the configuration of political power, encouraging, enlarging, and strengthening various special interest groups."