5 takeaways: What Americans want from government reform
As 2021 comes to a close, President Biden can point to some achievements and plenty of obstacles in his bigger government, more services agenda. NYU Wagner Professor Paul Light’s new GovLab analysis suggests that Biden must take action toward government reform or risk a one-term presidency. Here are five takeaways from Professor Light’s analysis.
1. A slight gain in public support
Demand for major government reform has abated since Trump left, but the demand for a bureaucrat overhaul is still above the 50 percent mark.
The question for Biden: Will more government spending allay public demand for reform?
The question for Trump: Will his volatile style push demand back up?
2. Smaller government
Americans remain deeply divided between bigger and smaller government, but the Trump-base has a slight edge in the percentage of Americans who support a smaller government that provides fewer services. The question is whether Americans will trust Trump to fix the government agencies he worked so hard to break.
3. Shifting philosophies on government reform
Trump’s anti-government base of dismantlers lost a third of its support since the 2016 election, while Biden’s pro-government base of expanders increased by a quarter. Although Trump has the edge among the dismantlers, he does not have a strong position among the streamliners who oppose radical reforms.
4. Neither Trump nor Biden can win a majority in 2024 without help from other groups
Trump needs help from streamliners who want a smaller government and major reform, while Biden needs help from the rebuilders who want reformers who want bigger government but thinks the federal government needs significant reform
Trump’s plan for government reform is the same today as it was in 2016--cut, cut, and cut some more, while Biden best rebuttal is a promise to streamline the federal bureaucracy as the baby boomers retire during the coming decade. Their departure provides a once-in-an-epoch opportunity to flatten the federal bureaucracy and recruit new talent.
5. Address government breakdowns
Trump set the modern record in the number of breakdowns on a president’s watch, but the number of breakdowns on Biden’s watch has increased in recent months with rising public concerns about testing shortages and the economic effects of the supply-chain disruption. Biden can blame the problems on Trump to some extent, but he needs an agenda for fixing the hard and messy problems he now faces.