When Barack Obama ran for president four years ago, he appalled some Democrats by saying Ronald Reagan had been a transformational president.
Three years into his presidency, he has exceeded Reagan in one area: reductions in government jobs.
Labor Department report for December — government employment is down 2.6 percent over the last three years, compared to a decline of 2.2 percent in the early Reagan years. That is a record.
That record, which will seem a dubious distinction to public-sector employees, is largely a result not of federal policy but of shrinking state governments. State employment fell 1.2 percent in 2011 — the largest percentage for any year since counting began in 1955. The number is down 2.2 percent over the last three years. It was up 1.2 percent during Reagan’s first three years, declining in only one of the years...
The declines in government jobs in both the Reagan and Obama presidencies coincided with major recessions, of course, which reduced tax receipts for all levels of government. If Mr. Obama had had his way, state and local government job losses in 2011 could have been reduced with more federal assistance, but such proposals were blocked by Republicans in Congress.
There is no reason to think Mr. Obama is as happy about the reduction in government workers as some Republicans. But like it or not, the Obama administration has turned out to be anything but a big-government one...