One of the widely discussed sections of yesterday’s Inauguration speech that was the President’s discourse on the size of government:
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
My friend John is one of the few people I know who shares an interest in the writings of the framers, the Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers were written to sell the Constitution to American People. They are the most important work of political philosophy and pragmatic government EVER written in the United States.
I am sure that John would agree, that based on his speech, it is unlikely that the President ever read the Federalist Papers as the President’s statement on the size of government ignores the fact that a “small-government” is what the framers of the constitution intended when they created this great Republic. That’s not to say they did not want a government that worked, but they felt that a SMALLER government worked best:
Under the FIRST view of the subject, two important questions arise: 1. Whether any part of the powers transferred to the general government be unnecessary or improper? 2. Whether the entire mass of them be dangerous to the portion of jurisdiction left in the several States?
Is the aggregate power of the general government greater than ought to have been vested in it? This is the FIRST question… …that in all cases where power is to be conferred, the point first to be decided is, whether such a power be necessary to the public good; as the next will be, in case of an affirmative decision, to guard as effectually as possible against a perversion of the power to the public detriment.
That we may form a correct judgment on this subject, it will be proper to review the several powers conferred on the government of the Union; and that this may be the more conveniently done they may be reduced into different classes as they relate to the following different objects: 1. Security against foreign danger; 2. Regulation of the intercourse with foreign nations; 3. Maintenance of harmony and proper intercourse among the States; 4. Certain miscellaneous objects of general utility; 5. Restraint of the States from certain injurious acts; 6. Provisions for giving due efficacy to all these powers. (Federalist 41)
In Federalist 21 Alexander Hamilton gave a supply side argument. He was against AGAINST an federal income tax because he was worried because high taxes, would increase the size of government and lessen consumption:
If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds. This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them.
You see Mr. President, this government was formed on the basis of limiting government, keeping it out of the people’s lives AND our wallets.