Obama, Republicans Need To Know: Nobody Wants the Government in Their Living Room

In good times or bad, there’s always someone willing to tell the Republican Party that the road to success is to embrace the liberal agenda. In a speech in Washington Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell joined the chorus. We hope for the sake of the country that his party doesn’t listen.

Mr. Powell insisted that he doesn’t want the Republicans to turn into Democrats or clones of the Democrats. But it’s hard to see what other space he hopes the GOP will carve out for itself given his analysis. According to press accounts, Mr. Powell argued that America has changed, and “Americans do want to pay taxes for services” and “Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less.”

If the American people want to pay more taxes, nobody seems to have told the Obama Administration. There’s a reason that the President ran as a tax cutter and repeats at every opportunity that he’s already, in his words, cut taxes for “95% of working families.” The appetite for Walter Mondale-style honesty about the consequences of huge spending increases remains low, to judge by the Administration’s own rhetoric.

But even if Mr. Powell is right, this supposed newfound appetite for bigger government isn’t likely to last. Uncle Sam is like that overbearing relative that you only miss when he’s gone. The appeal fades quickly after he’s installed himself in your living room and starts pushing you around. If the Obama Administration manages to implement its agenda and grow federal spending to 30% of GDP or more — taking over the health-care system, the mortgage industry, major banks and the auto industry along the way — it won’t be long before Americans lose their appetite for big government, assuming they ever found it.

At that point, a GOP that had embraced Mr. Powell’s advice would find itself with even less credibility than it currently has on restoring government to a manageable size. Mr. Powell says it’s bad for the country to have a shrinking GOP, and he’s right. But even worse would be an opposition party in name only.

Opinion fromThe Wall Street Journal

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