Big government: National discussion and debate series

Big government: National discussion and debate series

In his First Inaugural Address, confronted by a dim economic outlook, President Ronald Reagan declared his intention to reverse the course of government expansion by stating: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Thirty years later—with both political parties holding power for extended periods of time—the size and scope of the United States government has reached a new apex. In short, the end of “the era of big government” has not come to pass.

Resolved: There’s too much government In my life

Arguing for the resolution:

Congressman Paul Ryan, currently serving his 7th term as a Member of Congress, works to address the many important issues affecting Wisconsin residents and serves as an effective advocate for the First Congressional District. He is the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, where he works to bring fiscal discipline and accountability to the federal government. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, Social Security, health care and trade laws. Paul has put forward a specific plan to tackle our looming fiscal crisis, driven by the explosion of entitlement spending. The Path to Prosperity helps spur job creation today, stops spending money the government doesn’t have, and lifts the crushing burden of debt. This plan puts the budget on the path to balance and the economy on the path to prosperity.

George F. Will is one of the most widely recognized, and widely read, writers in the world, with more than 450 newspapers, his biweekly Newsweek column, and his appearances as a political commentator on ABC to his credit. Will began his syndicated column with The Writers Group in 1974, and two years later started his bi-weekly column for Newsweek. In 1977, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, and has garnered numerous major awards for his Newsweek columns. Today Will serves as a contributing analyst with ABC News and has been a regular member of ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday mornings since 1981. Eight collections of his Newsweek and newspaper columns have been published. Will is the author of several books, including Statecraft as Soulcraft and the national best-seller Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball.

Arguing against the resolution:

Congressman Barney Frank represents the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts, and he is also the Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee. Last year, he helped pass the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a new law that the Washington Post has called “the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system since the Great Depression.” Frank began his career in the Massachusetts State House, where he served for eight years before winning a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1980. Although he is widely-recognized for his work on national issues, Frank has also fought to help New Bedford fishermen, to bring commuter rail to the Southcoast, to provide affordable rental housing, and to support many local organizations and businesses.

Robert B. Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. Time magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, and The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. 


Christiane Amanpour is the anchor of ABC’s Sunday morning political affairs program, “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.” In addition to her anchoring role, she provides international analysis of the important issues of the day on ABC News’ other programs and platforms and anchors primetime documentaries on international subjects.

Ms. Amanpour joined ABC on August 1, 2010 from CNN, where she was most recently the network’s Chief International Correspondent and anchor of “Amanpour,” a daily half-hour interview program. Upon becoming an international correspondent for CNN in 1990, her first major assignment was covering the Gulf War. She has since reported on and from the world’s major hotspots, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Rwanda, the Balkans, and the U.S. during Hurricane Katrina. After 9/11 she was the first international correspondent to secure interviews with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. She has interviewed other world leaders from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including Iranian Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as the presidents of Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, among others.

Ms. Amanpour has received every major broadcast award, including an inaugural Television Academy Award, nine News and Documentary Emmys, four George Foster Peabody Awards, two George Polk Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards, the Courage in Journalism Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award and nine honorary degrees. In October 2010, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was also made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her “highly distinguished, innovative contribution” to the field of journalism. In 1998 the city of Sarajevo named her an honorary citizen for her coverage of the Bosnia war.

Ms. Amanpour was born in London and spent part of her childhood in Tehran, Iran. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rhode Island with a BA in journalism.