Reagan was most definitely a Small Government Conservative. He shrank the bureauracracy, grew the military, reduced the Government's involvement in our personal affairs, reduced taxes, the list goes on and on.
Let's see, the Federal Budget GREW from 678,241,000 to 1,143,646,000 in those eight years.
The ONLY presidents to actually shrink government in the past 50 years are Carter and Clinton. [BLS]
Total CIVILIAN Federal Workforce
Carter: 1,173,000-1,159,000 -14,000
Now, about those taxes. In 1982, Reagan launched a $100BILLION tax hike, the largest since WW2. He followed it up with a $50BILLION Tax Hike in 1984 with a rise in the Gasoline tax in 1983 thrown in for good luck. In 1986 he landed the largest Corporate tax increase in history with a $120BILLION increase and closed $300BILLION in loopholes.
Here is a VERY partisan view of it but it is the most humorous overview of the "small Government Conservative" that I scanned. It is, however very accurate in its numbers.
"Reagan's Liberal Legacy" by Joshua Green
Exactly where did this "shrinking" occur? Would it be taxpayer's wallets?