Ilya Somin on How Crisis Facilitates the Growth of Government

May 14th, 2012

An old black-swan post from Ilya:

I. Once Again, a Crisis Facilitates the Growth of Government.

Obama and the Democrats began to realize my expectations by passing a gargantuan “stimulus” bill and pushing a massive expansion of government control over health care, as well as promoting other major increases in the size and scope of government. But recent Republican political victories, especially Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts, led many people to think that the health care bill would fail and the expansion of government might come to a halt. I had to admit that I had underestimated the political constraints inhibiting the administration. But I still thought that Democrats might be able to pass the bill by getting the House to adopt the proposal previously passed by the Senate – which has indeed happened.

The health care bill will now take its place with numerous Depression and wartime policies that expanded government in ways that would never have been possible absent the crisis, but which had no real connection to alleviating it. Absent the economic crisis, the Democrats would not have won such a sweeping victory in 2008, nor would Obama have had such an enormous reservoir of initial popularity to invest in pushing the health care bill through. As it turned out, the Democrats will have needed almost every bit of their huge crisis-created congressional majority in order to make up for defections in their own ranks.