The next ‘Era of Big Government’

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gives her thumbs up as she appears on stage during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Bill Clinton declared in 1996 that “the Era of Big Government is over.” Of course it wasn’t and isn’t. Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination on Thursday night says it might just be gathering steam.

Mrs. Clinton cited a long list of priorities for her administration, should she be elected. It is clear that believes government should be a problem solver, and that the problems range from big to small and everything in between.

As one commentator observed, Mrs. Clinton “checked all the boxes” of the Democrat interest groups.

One particularly large group — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters — should be heartened by Mrs. Clinton’s expressed support for their agenda of “economic and social justice issues,” which she described as a “progressive platform” for real change. Mr. Sanders, the self-described socialist who was the main impediment to Mrs. Clinton’s nomination, urged his backers to get behind the Clinton campaign early during the convention.

Systemic problems include political division and gridlock, Mrs. Clinton said, touting her ability to work across party lines for change.

“There’s too much inequality. Too little social mobility. Too much paralysis in Washington. Too many threats at home and abroad.”

But who expects the Republicans in Congress to sign up for a program that includes such liberal nostrums as a big hike in the minimum wage, broad expansion of Social Security benefits, free college, debt reduction for college students, Medicare expansion, federally mandated child care and paid family leave?

No one should question Mrs. Clinton’s sincerity, her determination or her eye for detail: “It’s true … I sweat the details of policy — whether we’re taking about the exact level of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Mich., the number of mental health facilities in Iowa or the cost of your prescription drugs.”

That speaks to a comprehensive, perhaps suffocating, notion of federal responsibility and authority — and a belief in government’s capacity to make a wide range of optimal corrections. Mrs. Clinton’s insistence that her broad agenda could be financed by soaking the rich can charitably be described as pie in the sky, or less so as class warfare.

She also envisions a massive federal infusion of funding for a nationwide infrastructure program that would provide an equivalent boost in jobs. Shovel-ready, anyone?

Domestic issues might be closest to Mrs. Clinton’s heart, but her remarks about the nation’s defense needs and the role of the commander in chief were her most encouraging of the night. In contrast to her Republican opponent, she pledged her support for NATO and laid out a reasonable strategy to deal with the Islamic State.

“America’s strength doesn’t come from lashing out,” she said. “Strength relies on smarts, judgment, cool resolve and the precise application of power. That’s the kind of commander in chief I pledge to be.”

Also encouraging were Mrs. Clinton’s comments in support of reforming gun laws to “keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and all others who would do us harm.” She added, “I refuse to believe we can’t find common ground here.”

By and large, however, Mrs. Clinton’s ambitious goals call for an ever expansionist federal government — even more than what the nation has seen under President Obama. It’s said she is running for a third Obama term.

In view of her agenda, it’s more likely she views the present administration as a warm-up act for the next Era of Big Government.