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Fred Barnes | Surprise: Obama wants more government





President Obama wants more government. In his second inaugural address, he masked the message with phrases like "collective action" and doing "things together." But these were stand-ins—euphemisms, really—for a bigger and more ambitious federal government. That’s the unmistakable goal of his second term, and his inaugural address was devoted to his determination to achieve it.

Mr. Obama paid lip service to reducing "the size of our deficit." This was followed by a crucial "but" as he went on to defend a series of programs he is unwilling to cut, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. "These things do not sap our initiative," he declared. "They strengthen us."

In effect, Mr. Obama endorsed the entire liberal agenda as the guiding star of his next four years in the White House. He reached out to various interest groups in the Democratic coalition—gays, minorities, feminists, the poor, immigrants. But to Republicans, he offered nothing, not even a vague desire to meet them halfway or reach bipartisan agreements on taxes, spending or anything else.

So there won’t be a "grand bargain" in Mr. Obama’s second term. As for the looming debt crisis, the president didn’t give it so much as an anxious nod. His mind was on growing government.

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