The Return of Big Government.

Mhambi Musonda
3 min readMay 17, 2021

After 40 years of ostracism, President Biden effectively declared that the era of Big Government is back.

President Joe Biden delivering his first address before a Joint Session of Congress.

In his 1981 inauguration speech, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.

Nearly four decades later, in his 2019 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump embraced a similar concept and equated calls for government action with socialism: “America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Twenty-five years ago, Bill Clinton, a Democratic president, stood in front of Congress and infamously declared that “the era of big government is over.”

25 years later and three Democratic presidents later, President Joe Biden is mounting the most aggressive defense for a more robust, expansive, and activist government of any Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic & social complications have underscored the desideratum that big government is indispensable for the welfare of Americans and the United States of America — Joe Biden, unlike other Democratic presidents, understands that. “We have to prove democracy still works. That our government still works — and can deliver for the people. In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore the people’s faith in our democracy to deliver. We’re vaccinating the nation. We’re creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’re delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives.”

President Joe Biden has embraced a more expansive role of the federal government. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The President´s appetency for big government is an unequivocal reversal from two decades of timidity by Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama who both passed economic stimulus plans in their first months in office, but both faced significant political blowback from Republicans and thus curtailed the large legislative ambitions that both Presidents Clinton and Obama promised in 1992 and 2008, respectively. Additionally, Biden´s embrace of government activism is a reversal from the centrism that was at the core of Biden´s political ideology since he entered national politics in the 1970s.

Biden´s embrace of government activism is a rejoinder to 40 years of Republican resistance to government action formed during the Reagan administration.

President Reagan´s indoctrination that government action is the source of the problems plaguing America led to 40 years of pusillanimity and centrism by both political parties during abject crises when government intervention was the only solution to quell the nation´s convulsions.

For example, the Obama administration´s downsized 2009 economic stimulus package that prolonged the Great Recession and led to Republican dominance in both houses of Congress and eventually the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Reagan´s small-government dogma resulted in a decades-long strain on the federal government, specifically concerning domestic spending, the reapportionment of wealth, and ¨trickle-down¨ economics that primarily benefited the wealthiest of Americans.

Congressional Republicans have aspersed the President´s $6 trillion Build Back Better legislative priorities as ¨socialism¨ and unwarranted government spending with minimal public support as they have with every Democratic president since FDR. Notwithstanding in December of 2017, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans passed a $2 trillion tax cut that distended the deficit and did minimal for middle-class families.

Republicans contend that Americans are not receptive to Biden´s transformative agenda, the numbers say otherwise.

An NBC News poll this month found that 55% of Americans want the federal government to do more to solve the nation’s problems; only 41% want the government to do less. That’s a reversal from 1995, during the Clinton administration when 62% said the government was “trying to do too many things.” The NBC poll also found similar support for bigger government in 2018, long before anyone heard of the coronavirus.

Public opinion polls have given the President a succinct and overwhelming message after 40 years of ¨trickle-down economics¨ and the false notion that the federal government is the source of our problems — Americans want a more activist federal government.