In the wake of the disastrous Bush presidency and the Republican defeats of 2006 and 2008, it was widely assumed that the GOP had repudiated the idea that big government could be harnessed for conservative ends. And, of course, in 2010, the Tea Party led a return to conservatism’s traditional small-government roots, resulting in the biggest Republican landslide in 70 years. One would think that settled the matter.
Yet, just five weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, both of the front-runners for the Republican nomination are strong advocates for a bigger, more activist government. Obviously, everything is relative. Neither Mitt Romney nor Newt Gingrich represents the sort of income-redistributing welfare state embodied by the Obama administration. But neither are they a threat to truly cut back the size, cost, and intrusiveness of the federal government.
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