ELEVEN PRESIDENTS: Promises vs. Results in Achieving Limited Government: News Releases: The Independent Institute

The Power of Independent Thinking


Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

News Release
November 7, 2017

ELEVEN PRESIDENTS: Promises vs. Results in Achieving Limited Government

OAKLAND, CA—Will President Trump and the Republican-dominated Congress be remembered for fulfilling their pledge to “drain the swamp” and reverse the expansion of federal power? If not, it wouldn’t be the first time such a promise was broken.

Over the past 100 years, presidents who campaigned to roll back Big Government often ultimately failed, despite the public’s perceptions to the contrary. Those who achieved success in limiting government, on the other hand, are usually not remembered for doing so.

The disconnect between public perceptions and presidential performance is the focus of Eleven Presidents: Promises vs. Results in Achieving Limited Government, the new book by Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.

In Eleven Presidents, Eland investigates the record of American presidents since the end of World War I who (to varying degrees) pledged to restrain or reverse the growth of federal power: Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II.

Here are a few of the findings:

  • Famous for his anticommunism, Richard Nixon nevertheless supported many initiatives that encroached on small-government federalism, including the creation of new federal agencies that violate the Constitution’s separation of powers.

  • Jimmy Carter restrained the growth of federal spending relative to GDP, deregulated four major industries, and appointed a Federal Reserve chairman who dried up inflation by tightening the monetary spigot.

  • During Ronald Reagan’s tenure and despite initial tax cuts, federal spending went up, the nonmilitary federal workforce increased, and the national debt as a share of GDP grew more than under any other president after World War II.

  • Bill Clinton cut federal spending more than any president since Truman, shrank the federal workforce by 350,000, lowered trade barriers, scrapped Depression-era banking restrictions, and ended unfunded federal mandates on the states.

  • George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” violated the limited-government rule book, with massive corporate-welfare bailouts following the 2008 financial meltdown, greater federal involvement in education, and the creation of a new entitlements program—the Medicaid prescription drug benefit.

An important, revealing book about presidential power, history, and legacy, Eleven Presidents is essential reading for understanding American governance and liberty.

Ivan Eland, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute, a non-profit, research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For media inquiries, contact Publicist Kate Brown: [email protected]; (202) 213-7051 or Communications Manager Rob Ade: [email protected]; (510) 632-1366, ext. 114.

  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless
  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org