Many historians say the United States government of the nineteenth century did little to improve the lives of its citizens. But Brian Balogh (University of Virginia) argues the federal government was quite active even before the era of big government, and laid the groundwork for America to become a superpower in the twentieth century. Also: Chris Howard (William and Mary), in his book “The Hidden Welfare State,” makes the argument that through the tax code, the U.S. government subsidizes a wide range of housing, health, pension, and income support programs. The largest of these tax subsidies, costing hundreds of billions of dollars each year, go disproportionately to the more affluent members of society.
Brian Balogh is a co-host of our sister radio program, “BackStory with the American History Guys,” an hour-long call-in program examining the historical roots of contemporary issues.