View Full Version : Government gets bigger not smaller under gw & co.

Sep 5, 2003, 09:42 AM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The era of big government, if it ever went away, has returned full-throttle under President Bush, who came to office championing "conservative ideas" as an alternative.

A report released on Friday by the Brookings Institution think tank and New York University said the "true size" of the federal work force -- which includes employees for federal contractors and grant recipients -- grew by more than one million, to 12.1 million, from October 1999 to October 2002.

The increase was linked to the war on terrorism that Bush launched after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, as well as to growth at the Department of Health and Human Services and other domestic agencies, the report said.

The growth represents a roughly 75 percent rebound from federal work force declines linked to the post-Cold War "peace dividend," which helped enable former President Bill Clinton to declare in 1996 that "the era of big government is over."

"We are now at the end of an era: of the 'end of the era of big government,' said study author Paul Light, who is affiliated with Brookings and NYU. "We've got a big mission to deliver in this country."

Said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, "The president's priorities are that government gets results for the people, and he is focused on protecting Americans, winning the war on terrorism, and ensuring economic security."


According to the report, the federal work force grew in all areas except for the civil service as the Bush administration strived to limit the visibility of an expanding government by shifting work to contractors and grant recipients.

This has been a practice under administrations going back to the 1960s, Light said. "I don't have a problem with a government this big," he said. "But we ought to be honest" about the true scale of the government's role.

The civil service declined by 46,000 jobs from 1999 to 2002, while the number of jobs at federal contractors grew by 727,000 and at grant recipients by 333,000.

Although the military added only 70,000 people in uniform, the government created about 500,000 new defense-related jobs, starting late in Clinton's presidency.

"The Bush administration has put the pedal to the metal in terms of defense spending," Light said.

The federal role has also increased in other areas, most notably education where Bush legislation on student testing and teacher qualification has created a huge "unfunded mandate" for states and local districts, Light said.

Bush in his 2000 presidential campaign ran as a champion of a minimal federal role.

"Big government is not the answer," he said in his nomination acceptance speech. "The alternative ... is to put conservative values and conservative ideas into the thick of the fight for justice and opportunity."

But Light said the rising U.S. population makes it inevitable that the government will continue to grow.

Both shrubs made it bigger while Clinton actually shrank it.

Sep 5, 2003, 10:09 AM
Bigger government AND less taxes. Its amazing Bush was able to pull it off without going into horrible debt.


Oh yeah, he didn't.


Sep 5, 2003, 10:17 AM
Well he can find billions to pay for a war, and billions more for tax cuts, but can't seem to find money to give federal employees a raise equal to the rate of inflation. So in real dollar terms, these people are making less than they did last year.

Link (http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story.cfm?story=59005&ran=208294)
General-schedule employees were to have received a 2.7 percent across-the-board boost of basic pay, plus a premium for those who work in the most expensive regions.

Bush, however, said the full raises would cost about $11 billion more than he had proposed in his budget.

Such cost increases would threaten our efforts against terrorism or force deep cuts in discretionary spending or federal employment to stay within budget,'' Bush wrote. Neither outcome is acceptable.''
Meanwhile, Congress is working to get themselves a pay raise.