After Friday's press conference, the president needs to regain his footing. But first the president needs to decide how to continue what he started Friday. Beyond the line about “the private sector doing fine,” the president said something important about the role of government and, in particular, the economic role that he believes government plays in America. See E.J. Dionne's timely piece from today's Washington Post titled “Government is the solution.”
The president is worried that there are too few government jobs. Not just in the federal government that he heads, but at the state and local levels, too. The president said it is a problem for the economy that the government is too small. This is a legitimate point of view, and Mitt Romney's views about the role and size of government offer a vivid contrast.
I've tried to think of a few fair questions that could be good for the campaigns to debate or that might be useful if included in a poll.
1. Do you think the government is performing well and should receive more money so it can do even more?
2. Do you think government should be expected to get by with less money?
3. Do you think growing the government at the federal, state and local levels would be good for the economy or not good for the economy?
4. Which candidate would do the most to expand and empower government, Obama or Romney?
5. Would you like to see the government in America expanded and given more power, or given less power?
The answers to these questions may be what the 2012 elections are really about. E.J. Dionne concludes his piece by saying, "Let's turn Ronald Reagan's declaration on its head: Opposition to government isn't the solution. Opposition to government was and remains the problem. It is past time that we affirm the government's ability to heal the economy, and its responsibility for doing so."