President Obama has frequently cited the seemingly intractable debate about the size of government currently consuming the political class as his primary obstacle to getting major reforms through a divided Congress.
For example, in his State of the Union address he said:
In the land of government plentythat vast landscape populated with the tax dollars of Canadiansthere is no shortage of politicians willing to hand out and defend subsidies to business and no dearth of corporations willing to take the cash.
As anyone who has ever watched puppies tussle over a bone knows, nothing will lead to acrimony quicker than competition for an object everyone wants. Keep the puppy image in mind. Replace it with provincial governments, many of whom now have a stake in the federal transfer program, equalization.
Government is the single most pervasive institution of modern life and its programs are important to our quality of life. While government spending around the world has grown, more and larger government is not always associated with better outcomes.