These days, pretty much no one argues in favor of Big Government. It was Bill Clinton who announced in 1996 that "the era of Big Government is over." But while public trust in government keeps declining, reliance on government continues to grow. Americans may not like Big Government, but they sure like their Medicare and Social Security and mortgage-interest deduction.
Michael Grunwald's cover story brings this idea alive as he charts how much his life--and ours--is subsidized by government. It's not something most of us think about every day as we use publicly financed roads and electricity and communications technology--but if this presidential campaign is in large part a conversation about the proper role of government, it's useful for voters to better understand the role it plays in their lives.
Michael's new book, The New New Deal, tells the backstory of the Obama stimulus bill and all the changes it is driving. Whatever happens in the election, it's clear that both parties will have to reckon with our fiscal crisis through a combination of cuts and new revenue. And as they get to work, they might stick this quotation from Abraham Lincoln on their computer screens: "The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot so well do for themselves in their separate and individual capacities." And as Lincoln added, government should get out of the way when individuals can do it better.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR
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