Americans At Least Pretend to Want Less Government

As government at all levels continues to grow, as our federal debt spirals out of control, and as the constitutional ideal of limited government fades into history, it is good to know that most Americans at least claim to believe in smaller government. Rasmussen reports:

By a 14-point margin, most voters still prefer a limited-government agenda.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 52% of Likely U.S. voters prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes. Thirty-eight percent (38%) disagree and prefer a more active government with more services and higher taxes. Another 10% are not sure.

Since 2007, a majority of voters have always claimed to want less government. That majority peaked in 2009 at 70%. Today’s 52% is down slightly from 2021.

One of the reasons why voters say they want smaller government is that they believe government wastes a lot of money. Which is true, of course:

Nearly three-quarters of voters (72%) say government does not spend taxpayer money wisely and carefully. Only 16% believe government does spend taxpayer money wisely and carefully.

Around 15% of Americans are public employees, which no doubt accounts for that 16%. When Center of the American Experiment recently asked Minnesotans, in our quarterly poll, for their best estimate of the percentage of state spending that is wasted, the median answer was 30%.

I used to say that you can vote for conservative governance, but you can’t get it. That seems to be true with respect to the size of government. Most Americans say they want less government, and many politicians run on a platform of restraining spending, yet government continues to grow inexorably, decade after decade. It may be that the fiscal collapse of the federal government is the only thing that will actually lead to a serious cutback in public spending.

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