"Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program” (or “Nothing lasts longer than a temporary government program") has been credited to U.S. president Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) and economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006). Both did use the phrase, but Utah senator Wallace F. Bennett (1898-1993) said in 1964: “It is an age-old Washington axiom that there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.”
A “temporary” government program becomes permanent, according to “big government” critics, because it’s easier for government to spend than it is to save money. Labor unions and others lobby for adding government programs, but hardly anyone lobbies for the taxpayer to take them away.
Wikipedia: Wallace F. Bennett
Wallace Foster Bennett (November 13, 1898 – December 19, 1993) was a Republican Senator representing the U.S. state of Utah (1951-1974).
Bennett was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 13, 1898 to Rosetta Wallace and John Foster Bennett. He served as an infantry officer in World War I. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1919. He became a high school principal and then a paint manufacturer. He was first elected to the Senate in 1950, defeating 18-year incumbent Elbert D. Thomas. Bennett served four terms before retiring in 1974. He resigned shortly before the end of his final term, and his already elected successor, Republican Jake Garn, was appointed to fill his seat.
Wikiquote: Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman (31 July 1912 – 16 November 2006) was an American economist noted for his support for free markets and a reduction in the size of government. In 1976 he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics.
. There is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
U.S. economist, 1912-
“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”
Quoted in Cleveland Plain Dealer, 27 Oct. 1993
Mental health (supplemental). Hearings ... July 10, 11, 1963
By United States. Congress. House. Interstate and Foreign Commerce
I think it is very difficult to assume that your plan will work, because I have never seen a temporary government program that didn’t become permanent…
Periodic congressional review of Federal grants-in-aid
By United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Government Operations
It is an age-old Washington axiom that there is nothing so permanent as a temporary Government program.
(Utah Senator Wallace F. Bennett—ed.)
Agricultural Thought in the Twentieth Century
By George Stanley McGovern
Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill
The unsatisfactory results of many of these programs, plus the discovery that nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program, caused Farm Bureau…
24 January 1967, Albuquerque (NM) Tribune, pg. 12, col. 1:
There is no possible explanation for maintaining these programs. And the only possible excuse was posed by Mr. Shuman (Charles B. Shuman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation—ed.) when he said:
“There is no such thing as a ‘temporary’ government program as the political bureaucracy, once entrenched, tends to grow and grow.”
Mr. Shuman is a prime example of the good sense Washington refuses to accept.
Penn State University Digital Library
15 April 1967, Lancaster (PA) Farming:
“It is an age-old Washington and bureaucratic axiom”, says Senator Wallace F. Bennett of Utah, “that there is nothing quite so permanent as a ‘temporary government program.’”
12 June 1967, Elyria (OH) Chronicle Telegram, “Farmers want more freedom” by Ralph de Toledano, pg. 36, col. 4:
“We in agriculture,” Mr. Shuman (Charles B. Shuman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation—ed.) adds, “have learned that there is nothing ‘temporary’ about a government program, and once established, it grows like a malignant cancer. Few, if any, taxpayers know that the current cost of Federal farm programs is more than the total bill for running the government back in 1933. And the total government cost of price support and related farm programs from 1933 to 1966 amounts to more than $51 billion. The farm program has proved that government spending is not a cure-all for social and economic programs and in some cases makes them worse.”
16 March 1971, Aiken (SC) Standard, “Citizen Smith” comic, pg. 4, col. 6:
“Another $20! I wish you could get a wave as permanent as a temporary government program!”
(A wife asks her husband to fork over $20 for a “permanent” hair wave—ed.)
29 April 1971, Corbin (KY) Times-Tribune, “Common Horse Sense For Americans” by Gene Siler, pg. 4, cols. 3-4:
There is nothing quite so permanent as a “temporary” government program. Foreign aid started out as a temporary program to help a few countries get on their feet after World War II more than twenty years ago. This program has apparently changed long ago from temporary to permanent.
14 April 1977, Big Spring (TX) Herald, “Jobless benefit ‘no’ defended” by Omar Burleson (M.C. 12th District, Texas), pg. 12B, col. 4:
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Nothing seems quite as permanent as a temporary government program. Year by year the Congress continues to extend supplemental unemployment benefits beyond the 39 weeks available under the regular federal-state payments.
24 February 1983, Alton (IL) Telegraph, “Butz is optimistic on farm economy” by J. L. Schmidt, pg. B5, col. 1:
“There’s nothing more permanent than a temporary government program,” Butz (Earl Butz, former Agriculture Secretary and dean emeritus of agriculture at Purdue University—ed.) said of the Payment in Kind program which was “a political necessity, and a popular program cut here in the country.”
Tyranny of the Status Quo
By Milton Friedman and Rose D. Friedman
San Diego, CA: harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Each recession has produced government spending programs supposedly as a temporary device to create jobs. But nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. Those programs have typically moved into high gear only after the economy was on the road to recovery. In the process, they have established an interested constituency that has lobbied for their continuation, thereby contributing to the upward trend in government spending.
27 October 1993, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Quotes Deemed ‘Unfamiliar,’” pg. 6A:
A sampling of quotes that conservative editor Adam Meyerson says should have been included in Bartlett’s “Familiar Quotations”:
“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” - Milton Friedman.
Ronald Reagan: the great communicator
By Ronald Reagan
Edited by Frederick J. Ryan
New York, NY: HarperPerennial
We have long since discovered that nothing lasts longer than a temporary government program.
Remarks at Herbert Hoover Library, West Branch, Iowa, August 8, 1992
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (0) Comments • Friday, August 21, 2009 • Permalink