Reagan and Obama: Contrasting Views of Government

Peruse these contrasting quotes from President Obama’s inaugural speech and President Reagan’s first inaugural address. Notice how with Obama the government is not the problem whereas with Reagan the blame is placed on government and the elites. Obama spells out three entitlements the government should give the people whereas Reagan advocates self-rule and confidence in the people. Obama and Reagan both mention important points: Obama wants the light of day on government and Reagan stresses that no one group should be singled out to pay a higher price.

President Barack Obama

…not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
President Barack Obama


President Ronald Reagan

Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library

…government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.
President Ronald Reagan

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