In 1980, Ronald Reagan said, It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. A little more than 25 years later, Barack Obama declared the Reagan Revolution over. This book surveys the highlights and low points of the nearly 30-year struggle to limit American government, set against the big-government world of the New Deal and the Great Society. The book assesses Reagan's successes and failures, and looks at the 1994 election as a mandate to resume Reagan's efforts. It explores George W. Bush's rejection of limited government in favor of high spending, a mixture of religion and government, and a floundering crusade to bring democracy to the Middle East. Finally, it asks whether the elections of 2006 and 2008 were a rejection of the limited government message or just a repudiation of the failed Bush presidency.
As revealed by John Samples in his essential new book, the battle over the size and role of government has been raging for decades. Arriving at a critical time, with clashes over limiting government occupying more battlefields than ever, The Struggle to Limit Government expertly chronicles this war’s history, as well as its implications for the future.
In examining the high and low points of the nearly 30-year struggle, from the Reagan revolution to the Obama administration, Samples first provides a fascinating look at the institutions and policies created by progressives from 1933 to 1968—the New Deal and Great Society—and their influence on all that has followed. “The institutions and policies of the old regime created both a politics of entitlement and a people who favor the persistence of such benefits,” writes Samples. “It fostered a dependence on government amongst a people culturally disposed to liberty.”
Samples then assesses the rise, successes, and failures of Ronald Reagan, the historic 1994 elections, and the ensuing unsuccessful struggles to fulfill Reagan’s goal of reversing government’s growth. He traces the drift of the Republican majority in Congress, and the epic battles within and between the Republican and Democratic parties, Congress and Bill Clinton, which left us nowhere—with “neither limited government nor enduring majorities.”
The book then examines the trauma of George W. Bush: his high spending, his mixture of religion with government, and his floundering crusade to bring democracy to the Middle East. The 2006 and 2008 elections, Samples shows, were a repudiation of the Bush presidency, not of limited government.
Samples does not simply point and critique; he also includes extensive prescriptions for improvement. With its political analysis of major government programs, from Medicare and Medicaid to Social Security and taxes, The Struggle to Limit Government is an energetic, sobering, and essential guide to the political battles of today and tomorrow.
John Samples directs The Cato Institute's Center for Representative Government, which studies campaign finance regulation, delegation of legislative authority, term limits, and the political culture of limited government and the civic virtues necessary for liberty. He is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. Samples is the author of The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History and The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform. Prior to joining Cato, Samples served eight years as director of Georgetown University Press, and before that, as vice president of the Twentieth Century Fund. He has published scholarly articles in Society, History of Political Thought, and Telos. Samples has also been featured in mainstream publications like USA Today, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. He has appeared on NPR, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. Samples received his Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University.
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Format: Book (Hardcover)
Publisher: Cato Institute
Date Published: Apr 25, 2010
Dimensions: 6.25 x 9.25 x 1.00 (in)
Weight: 21.20 oz