NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Government Grows to Combat Terrorism

September 27, 2001

It seems it only takes two weeks to leave in shambles two decades of efforts to pare down big government, advocates of restrained and limited government lament. Proposals for new federal powers, new programs, new spending to combat terrorism are rushing forward in Washington -- while yesterday's demands for budget restraint seem like anachronisms.

  • Within hours after the attacks, the Bush administration and Congress approved a $40 billion spending bill -- followed in a few days by an unprecedented $15 billion bailout of the airlines.
  • The Pentagon wants $17 billion more for national defense and legislation has been introduced to provide $71 billion in tax-exempt bonds, loans and loan-guarantees to Amtrak to build a nationwide network of high-speed rails.
  • The White House is creating an entirely new cabinet department: the Office of Homeland Security.
  • And proposals are erupting to give new powers to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the FBI, the Treasury Department and other departments and agencies.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer put it this way: Proposals for expanding government must be viewed "less from an ideological strain and more through a wartime approach to helping this nation through an emergency."

Source: Greg Hitt and Jeanne Cummings, "Terror Attack Reverses a Two-Decade Drive to Shrink Government," Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2001.

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