As much as I prefer Obama over McCain on the foreign policy front, I have to agree with 430 (though I don't believe Obama will grow government as much as Bush did, I don't even think that's possible). I have yet to hear Obama discuss scaling anything back, but I do hear about health insurance and a variety of hand-out programs. Our country needs a 'get government out of the way' kinda guy, now more than ever, and Obama is definitely not that.
I went off on a reading tangent last night after our discussion trying to find parallels of today and the past to see what fit, what didn't fit and what economic lessons might be applicable. [got in bed at dawn]
Best parallel that I could come up with is a very mixed results example. When FDR came into power in 1933 there was a very weak economy, the dollar was shot, financial sector was in shambles, confidence in the banks and in the government was at all time lows. Unemployment was at record highs.
What was done in the SHORT TERM were projects like WPA and CCC that addressed many of the immediate problems that plagued the country. They addressed many of the confidence issues and simply put Americans back to work. The result was a building economy that was fit and in place when WW2 came around. Confidence was restored, industry rebuilt and pride was reinstated in the working person. That work ethic built and grew into the 40s and 50s to an economic machine that was second to no one.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated to the Presidency of the United States on March 4, 1933, bringing with him a hope for better times in the midst of the Great Depression. In May of 1933 the Federal EmergencyRelief Administration was allocated $500,000,000 in direct relief of money to be spent by the federal government through state and local agencies. The National Industrial Recovery Act passed by Congress and signed by FDR on June 16, 1933, supported an enormous appropriation of money in the sum of $3,300,000,000 for relief through public works to be dispensed at FDR's discretion.
WPA and CCC
That $500M equals $7.5Billion and the $3.3Billion is $50Billion according to the calculator I used [the calcs seem low to me] but the BLS suggest an aggregate 3.8% cumulative inflation rate for the spread.
Now, did some of the social programs go to far? YES. In hindsight we see that Social Security was not built correctly to address a population explosion like the boomers nor did it address an aging population that lived much longer. But at the time it was a dramatic improvement over the poor houses, dirt floored homes and actual death by poverty that existed in this country. Its meaning was good but its implementation could not foresee the 21st Century's population or economic slowdowns of the 70s and 00s.
So, to bring an actual point to that little history, it is very possible to have "some government in the way" and have the outcome productive and very helpful in a slice of time when the country needs it. It does not need to be omnipresent nor does it need to be "socialist" but there is nothing inherently wrong with well designed government programs. The KEY is "well designed".
If the design is flawed from the get go, the outcome is destined to failure.