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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Maybe the Era of Big Government Isn't Over

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Carolyn Kaste/AP

Leave it to Bill Clinton -- the man who famously declared an end to the era of big government -- to come out swinging in its defense at the Democratic National Convention. Well, at least he offered as strong a defense of vigorous government action as you're likely to see these days. 

Clinton headlined an evening at the Democrats' gathering in which several speakers drew a sharp contrast with the rugged individualism on display at the GOP convention last week and presented a vision in which government, if not the solution to all the country's problems, is a major force for societal change across a range of fronts.

Some excerpts from Clinton's remarks:

Now, folks, in Tampa a few days ago, we heard a lot of talk  all about how the president and the Democrats don’t really believe in free enterprise and individual initiative, how we want everybody to be dependent on the government, how bad we are for the economy. This Republican narrative — this alternative universe — says that every one of us in this room who amounts to anything, we’re all completely self-made. ...

We Democrats — we think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to work their way into it — with a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly share prosperity. You see, we believe that “we’re all in this together” is a far better philosophy than “you’re on your own.”  ...

When times are tough and people are frustrated and angry and hurting and uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good. But what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation. What works in the real world is cooperation, business and government, foundations and universities. ...

The faction that now dominates the Republican Party ... [thinks] government is always the enemy, they’re always right, and compromise is weakness. ...

Now, that brings me to health care. And the Republicans call it, derisively, “Obamacare.” They say it’s a government takeover, a disaster, and that if we’ll just elect them, they’ll repeal it. Well, are they right? ...

Soon the insurance companies -- not the government, the insurance companies --  will have millions of new customers, many of them middle-class people with pre-existing conditions who never could get insurance before. ...

[The Republicans will] go in and cut the taxes way more than they cut spending, especially with that big defense increase, and they’ll just explode the debt and weaken the economy. And they’ll destroy the federal government’s ability to help you by letting interest gobble up all your tax payments. ...

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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