Obama says "big government" is not the answer to our big problems. He told an Elyria, Ohio Town Hall on January 22:
We don't need big government; we need smart government -- that works and interacts with the private sector to create opportunity for ordinary people. But it can't be this constant ideological argument. People need help. We need to provide them a helping hand. That's what we stand for.
Maybe the "ideological argument" isn't whether big or small government is best, but rather, what the definition of "big government is"...is.
One measure would be the number of employees on the government payroll. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
Thanks to the $800 billion stimulus package, and other huge government spending increases, the number of federal and state employees is projected to increase massively. The federal government's payroll may grow by more than 200,000, and perhaps as much as 600,000, over the course of the Obama administration. Obama's budgets, which would result in record deficit spending of $9.3 trillion, would add at least 100,000 additional bureaucrats during just his first budget, and perhaps as many as 250,000.
USA Today's updated Jobs Growth Forecast predicts a -0.2% decline in all sectors, contrasted with a 0.4% increase in government jobs.
And let's not forget the helping hand of the Stimulus, as noted in a Big Government commentary:
But the most relevant information on Recovery.gov is that most of the jobs created or saved are in the public sector. For instance, according to Vice President Biden, out of the 640,329 jobs, 325,000 went to education and 80,000 to construction jobs. The difference we will soon find out is going to other government jobs.
You need more evidence? 13,080 grants went to the private sector, and 116,625 went to federal agencies.
So even if we assume that the government could create jobs by spending our money, we can see that what this money is being spent on is big government.