The Size of Government and the Parties

In a recent commentary in the Washington Times, Richard W. Rahn of the Cato Institute made an interesting point concerning how the size of government can be pegged to some degree to sharing, or lack of sharing, of powers between the two major parties. Here’s an important excerpt:

It is probably no accident that the United States experienced its most recent high growth period in the late 1990s when there was a moderate Democrat in the White House (Bill Clinton) and a very aggressive Republican controlled Congress (Newt Gingrich and company).

During this period, the federal government actually shrank as a share of gross domestic product – which accounted for much of the prosperity. Yet, in just a decade that was mostly characterized by one-party rule – first by the Republicans and then by the Democrats – there has been a record rise in the size of government, not only in absolute but also in relative terms, so the federal government is about one-third larger than it was a decade ago.

All the more reason to vote some of the current congressional incumbents out. A divided government is less likely to get much done. And Congress getting less done may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Mark Twain was rumored to have once put it this way: “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

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