Almost 18 years ago, Bill Clinton stood before a joint session of Congress and declared that the “era of big government is over.” This statement was seen as Clinton’s attempt to shift his outdated Democratic party from the New Deal into the modern world. With the recent rise of the tea party, the majority of Americans believe that less government is more. Recent polling suggests people favor a smaller government which provides fewer services over a gigantic government that does more. President Obama, however, hasn’t gotten the memo. Last week, the president spoke to a liberal think tank and explained how he viewed the role of the federal government: It’s true that government cannot prevent all the downsides of the technological change and global competition that are out there right now — and some of those forces are also some of the things that are helping us grow. And it’s also true that some programs in the past, like welfare before it was reformed, were sometimes poorly designed, created disincentives to work, but we’ve also seen how government action time and again can make an enormous difference in increasing opportunity and bolstering ladders into the middle class. Investments in education, laws establishing collective bargaining and a minimum wage — these all contributed to rising standards of living for massive numbers of Americans. As Chris Cillizza summed up Obama’s speech, “Not all government is good. But not all government is bad either.” Read my take on the President’s “Big Government” philosophies in this week’s AmSpec blog.