Isn’t it interesting how, no matter which political party is in charge, the government continues to grow? This is especially puzzling, since Republican voters and politicians are supposedly supportive of small government. You’d think that the size of the government would ebb and flow over time, as Democrats increase spending and Republicans roll back government growth when they get into office. However, that never happens, and there’s a very simple reason why.
On Sunday, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 57% of Americans wanted the government to do more to solve problems, which is the most support for government intervention since the poll began in 1995. That support was stagnant throughout Obama’s presidency until 2015, when it suddenly shot up.
But that’s not all. A recent Pew poll found that American support for more government spending on a wide variety of programs has drastically increased compared to several years ago. On average, support for bigger government increased 7 percentage points since September, and hasn’t been this high since 2008.
Though 74% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents still say that they want a smaller government, much of the shift in support for big government is coming from the right. Compared to 2013, the last time that this poll was taken, Republicans are now nearly twice as likely to support more spending on anti-terrorism programs, and economic assistance for the needy. Support for more spending on scientific research went from 25% to 33%, and environmental protection went from 11% to 23%. Support for rebuilding infrastructure went from 33% to 55%. And of course, support for more defense spending exploded among Republicans, from 44% in 2013 to 71% in 2017.
Support for more spending increased in most of the same categories for Democrats, but to different degrees. But many of the biggest swings in the polls came from Republicans. Why is this?
Because now that a Republican is in the White House, and Republicans dominate the legislative branch, they’re suddenly okay with more spending. When you look at the numbers, Republican support for more spending in most of these categories steadily decreased during Barack Obama’s presidency, and suddenly jumped back up after he left office. They were only against big government when it wasn’t their government.