Coronavirus means the era of big government is back

In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, voters of both political parties said by a 2-to-1 margin that they approved of the expansion of government’s role in the economy to meet the crisis.

Oren Cass, who leads American Compass, a new organization devoted to revising conservative views on economic policy, argued that “one lesson we can and should learn from all this is that you can’t just flip a switch on strong, effective government when you need it. Just as you can’t get rid of the Defense Department in times of peace and then reconstitute it from scratch when attacked, you can’t push for the smallest possible government in normal times and expect to be ready with a competent response in an emergency.”

At the same time, while there was consensus behind government activism as the crisis struck, a loud and angry backlash now is emerging over whether the needle has moved too far, particularly on the state level. Protesters have taken to the streets in recent days, saying that political leaders, especially governors, have overstepped their authority by closing down the economy and putting American jobs and livelihoods at risk.