I think it's pretty significant that American wants less government and yet Republicans are struggling as we approach the 2006 election. Hmmm... maybe Republicans shouldn't have forgotten the principles of Reagan and Gingrich that put them into power?

A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem."

The poll released Friday also showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans perceive, correctly, that the size and cost of government have gone up in the past four years, when Republicans have had a grip on the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.

Discretionary spending grew from $649 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $968 billion in fiscal year 2005, an increase of $319 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Some of that increase is due to the War on Terror -- and Republicans should be saluted for ending the Clinton era of ineffectual diplomacy and cowardly appeasement -- but much of the added discretionary spending has been for big government projects like adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare... essentially attempts to buy votes from one group with money taken from another. That sort of behavior is disgraceful, and the American people know it when they see it.

Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country's problems. ...

"I believe that as a movement, we have veered off course into the dangerous and uncharted waters of big government Republicanism," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, a 110-member caucus that supports limited government and lower taxes.

"Conservatives came to office to reduce the size of government and enlarge the sphere of free and private initiative," said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. "But lately, we have increased government in order to stay in office."

I'm not a huge fan of John McCain, but he's right on the money here. It's easy to talk about small government when you're out of power, but once you're the government it takes a lot more moral character to restrain yourself.



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