Category Archives: Princton University

Commentary: GOP’s "small government" talk is hollow

By Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

note: Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. His new book, “Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security — From World War II to the War on Terrorism,” will be published this fall by Basic Books. Zelizer writes widely on current events.

PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) — As the budget debate heats up, Republicans are warning of socialism in the White House and claiming that Democrats are rushing back to their dangerous tonic of big government.

Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Rush Limbaugh warned that “the future is not Big Government. Self-serving politicians. Powerful bureaucrats. This has been tried, tested throughout history. The result has always been disaster.”

On CNN, former Vice President Dick Cheney said he is worried that the administration is using the current economic conditions to “justify” a “massive expansion” in the government.

After the past eight years in American politics, it is impossible to reconcile current promises by conservatives for small government with the historical record of President Bush’s administration. Most experts on the left and right can find one issue upon which to agree: The federal government expanded significantly after 2001 when George W. Bush was in the White House.

The growth did not just take place with national security spending but with domestic programs as well. Even as the administration fought to reduce the cost of certain programs by preventing cost-of-living increases in benefits, in many other areas of policy — such as Medicare prescription drug benefits, federal education standards and agricultural subsidies — the federal government expanded by leaps and bounds. And then there are the costs of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Federal spending stood at about $1.9 trillion in 2000, when Democrat Bill Clinton ended his presidency. In his final year in office, Bush proposed to spend $3.1 trillion for fiscal year 2009. President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal 2010 is $3.6 trillion.

Nor can Republicans blame a Democratic Congress for being responsible for these trends. Much of the expansion took place between 2002 and 2006, when Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House. The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes was writing about “big government conservatism” back in 2003.

Two years later, the right-wing CATO Institute published a report noting that total government spending had grown by 33 percent in President Bush’s first term, lamenting that “President Bush has presided over the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson.”

There were some areas where Bush backed off government cuts because programs were too popular, like Social Security. In other areas, like federal education policy and prescription drug benefits, the president seemed enthusiastic about bigger government.

Bush and Cheney also embraced a vision of presidential power that revolved around a largely unregulated and centralized executive branch with massive authority over the citizenry. This was a far cry from the days of Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, a Republican who constantly warned about the dangers of presidential power to America’s liberties.

After the 2008 election, Cheney was not apologetic. He explained that “the president believes, I believe very deeply, in a strong executive, and I think that’s essential in this day and age. And I think the Obama administration is not likely to cede that authority back to the Congress. I think they’ll find that given a challenge they face, they’ll need all the authority they can muster.”

Importantly, the marriage between conservatism and a robust federal government was not unique to the Bush presidency. The roots of Bush’s comfort with government can be traced to the Republican Right in the 1950s, members of Congress who called for an aggressive response to domestic and international communism.

Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were two Republicans who pragmatically accepted that Americans had come to expect that the federal government would protect against certain risks and that trying to reverse politics to the pre-New Deal period would be politically suicidal.

“Should any political party,” Eisenhower said, “attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”

When Nixon and congressional Republicans battled with Democrats over Social Security between 1970 and 1972, the debate revolved over how much to expand the program. Congressional Democrats wanted to increase benefits through the legislative process, while Nixon wanted to index benefits so they automatically increased with inflation.

Nixon and Congress did both.

President Reagan backed off his most ambitious efforts to cut government, most dramatically when he abandoned his proposal to curtail Social Security after facing a fierce backlash, while the military budget boomed. President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, which was one of the boldest regulatory expansions of government since the civil rights laws of the 1960s.

All of these presidents, particularly Nixon and Reagan, likewise promoted a muscular vision of presidential power that strengthened the authority of government and introduced concepts, such as the unitary executive, which would become the intellectual underpinning of the Bush administration.

“When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal,” Nixon told David Frost in 1977. Like it or not, strengthening the presidency is one of the most important ways in which the role of government has grown since the nation’s founding.

Fifty years of American history have shown that even the party that traditionally advocates small government on the campaign trail opts for big government when it gets into power. The rhetoric of small government has helped Republicans attract some support in the past, but it is hard to take such rhetoric seriously given the historical record — and it is a now a question whether this rhetoric is even appealing since many Americans want government to help them cope with the current crisis.

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Filed under CATO Institute, CNN, Congressional Democrats, Dick Cheney, Julian E. Zelizer, New Jersey, Princton University, Rus Limbaugh, small government, Social Security, the GOP

>HOLT: ECONOMIC RECOVERY BILL WOULD CREATE NEW JOBS,HELP THOSE STRUGGLING IN ECONOMIC CRISIS

>Here is what Congressman Rush Holt has to say about the passage of the Economic stimulas bill passed last night in the House.

Press Release:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12) tonight voted for the House-passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, arguing that it would provide the comprehensive investment needed to stop the nation’s economic decline and rebuild the economy by creating millions of new jobs. Holt highlighted nearly $16 billion of new funding for science research and facilities, including $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, $2 billion for physical science research at the Department of Energy, $3.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health, and $3 billion for research into energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Senate still needs to pass the bill.

“The ideal project is one that keeps on giving, and that is exactly what scientific research does,” Holt said. “In his Inaugural Address, President Obama said ‘we will restore science to its rightful place.’ This legislation places science at the center of short-term job creation and long-term economic growth.”

In December 2008, Holt hosted a roundtable discussion at Princeton University, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senior Congressional leaders, and national leaders in the science and technology community to highlight the importance of innovation infrastructure to ensure long-term American competitiveness.

Holt also drew attention to other investments that would help create new jobs and help families struggling in the economy, including funding for:

–School modernization, including funding for Holt’s initiative to increase energy efficiency (an estimated $250 million for New Jersey).

–Helping states prevent the laying off of teachers and other school employees (an estimated $1.7 million for New Jersey)

–Road and bridge construction, as well as improving public transit and rail (an estimated $1.15 billion for New Jersey)

–Transforming the nation’s electricity systems through the Smart Grid Investment Program.

–Job training, including for green-collar jobs.

–Increasing Pell Grants to $5,350 by the next school year, helping to make college more affordable.

–Extending unemployment benefits through 2009 and extending health care coverage for unemployed workers (an estimated 148,000 New Jersey workers would be eligible).

“We’re past the point where we can hope the economy will right itself,” Holt said. “People are hurting now. New Jersey’s unemployment rate has risen to 7.1 percent from 4.2 percent just a year ago. This legislation would provide the bold, wise action needed to get our economy on the road to recovery. Every dollar spent would create new jobs and help build the economy for the 21st century.”

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Filed under economic recovery bill, infrastructure, Job Training, New Jersey, President Obama, press release, Princton University, Rush Holt, unemployment benefits

HOLT: ECONOMIC RECOVERY BILL WOULD CREATE NEW JOBS,HELP THOSE STRUGGLING IN ECONOMIC CRISIS

Here is what Congressman Rush Holt has to say about the passage of the Economic stimulas bill passed last night in the House.

Press Release:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12) tonight voted for the House-passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, arguing that it would provide the comprehensive investment needed to stop the nation’s economic decline and rebuild the economy by creating millions of new jobs. Holt highlighted nearly $16 billion of new funding for science research and facilities, including $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, $2 billion for physical science research at the Department of Energy, $3.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health, and $3 billion for research into energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Senate still needs to pass the bill.

“The ideal project is one that keeps on giving, and that is exactly what scientific research does,” Holt said. “In his Inaugural Address, President Obama said ‘we will restore science to its rightful place.’ This legislation places science at the center of short-term job creation and long-term economic growth.”

In December 2008, Holt hosted a roundtable discussion at Princeton University, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senior Congressional leaders, and national leaders in the science and technology community to highlight the importance of innovation infrastructure to ensure long-term American competitiveness.

Holt also drew attention to other investments that would help create new jobs and help families struggling in the economy, including funding for:

–School modernization, including funding for Holt’s initiative to increase energy efficiency (an estimated $250 million for New Jersey).

–Helping states prevent the laying off of teachers and other school employees (an estimated $1.7 million for New Jersey)

–Road and bridge construction, as well as improving public transit and rail (an estimated $1.15 billion for New Jersey)

–Transforming the nation’s electricity systems through the Smart Grid Investment Program.

–Job training, including for green-collar jobs.

–Increasing Pell Grants to $5,350 by the next school year, helping to make college more affordable.

–Extending unemployment benefits through 2009 and extending health care coverage for unemployed workers (an estimated 148,000 New Jersey workers would be eligible).

“We’re past the point where we can hope the economy will right itself,” Holt said. “People are hurting now. New Jersey’s unemployment rate has risen to 7.1 percent from 4.2 percent just a year ago. This legislation would provide the bold, wise action needed to get our economy on the road to recovery. Every dollar spent would create new jobs and help build the economy for the 21st century.”

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Filed under economic recovery bill, infrastructure, Job Training, New Jersey, President Obama, press release, Princton University, Rush Holt, unemployment benefits

>HOLT ENCOURAGED BY AGREEMENT ON IMPORTANCE OF SCIENCE INVESTMENT TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY

>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12) today was encouraged by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee’s forum on the components of an economic recovery plan to spur job creation and create long-term growth – a discussion that included an exchange about the importance of investing in science innovation and infrastructure. Holt, a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, has long argued that investment in physical sciences and energy research can lead to sustained economic growth.

“Today’s forum strengthened the case that we can’t view science research and development as something the government can fund only in times of good economic health,” Holt said. “Innovation infrastructure will create jobs in the short term and drive the economy in the long term, and I am confident we will include it in the recovery plan we send to President Obama.”

Last month, Holt hosted a roundtable discussion at Princeton University, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressional leaders, and national leaders in the science and technology community to highlight the importance of innovation infrastructure to ensure long-term American competitiveness. Today, two of those participants – Norman Augustine, Former President and CEO, Lockheed Martin and author of the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm”, and Maria Zuber, E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – reiterated the need to include science funding in an economic recovery bill. Speaker Pelosi and Chairman George Miller, also participants at the Princeton roundtable, today voiced support for including science funding.

“We need to bolster existing high-innovation areas, and we will need to create new areas….The United States has led virtually every technology revolution since the mid-1800s, but it is by no means certain that we will lead the energy revolution,” Zuber said.

Contact: Zach Goldberg
202-225-5801 (office)

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Filed under 12th congressional district, economic recovery, M.I.T., Nancy Pelosi, Princton University, Rush Holt, Science Education, Steering and Policy Committee, US. Rep. George Miller

HOLT ENCOURAGED BY AGREEMENT ON IMPORTANCE OF SCIENCE INVESTMENT TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12) today was encouraged by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee’s forum on the components of an economic recovery plan to spur job creation and create long-term growth – a discussion that included an exchange about the importance of investing in science innovation and infrastructure. Holt, a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, has long argued that investment in physical sciences and energy research can lead to sustained economic growth.

“Today’s forum strengthened the case that we can’t view science research and development as something the government can fund only in times of good economic health,” Holt said. “Innovation infrastructure will create jobs in the short term and drive the economy in the long term, and I am confident we will include it in the recovery plan we send to President Obama.”

Last month, Holt hosted a roundtable discussion at Princeton University, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressional leaders, and national leaders in the science and technology community to highlight the importance of innovation infrastructure to ensure long-term American competitiveness. Today, two of those participants – Norman Augustine, Former President and CEO, Lockheed Martin and author of the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm”, and Maria Zuber, E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – reiterated the need to include science funding in an economic recovery bill. Speaker Pelosi and Chairman George Miller, also participants at the Princeton roundtable, today voiced support for including science funding.

“We need to bolster existing high-innovation areas, and we will need to create new areas….The United States has led virtually every technology revolution since the mid-1800s, but it is by no means certain that we will lead the energy revolution,” Zuber said.

Contact: Zach Goldberg
202-225-5801 (office)

Leave a comment

Filed under 12th congressional district, economic recovery, M.I.T., Nancy Pelosi, Princton University, Rush Holt, Science Education, Steering and Policy Committee, US. Rep. George Miller