Atrios has a dead-on post about the myth of “Big Goverment Liberals.”
I don’t know any “big government liberals” in the sense that Andy means. I don’t know anybody who gets a stiffy at the thought of raising taxes and increasing government spending as a share of GDP just for the hell of it. Liberals I know tend to think there are things government should do and we should, roughly, figure out how to pay for those things, though we’re not entirely allergic to deficit spending. When taxes have to go up to cover interest and debt repayment costs no liberals I know are going to go “YAY! HIGHER TAXES! WOO HOOO!”
For a long time the Left was tarred as idealistic utopians, addicted to ways of doing things no matter what the consequences. I have no real opinion on whether that criticism was ever true, but in any case it’s something which has been embraced wholesale by the Right. They have a small government fetish, and that fetish is linked almost entirely to the top marginal federal income tax rate. Liberals have no such corresponding fetish for “big government” even if they tend to be fans of some government programs conservatives like to demonize as being “big government liberalism.” No one’s going to enjoy sweeping up after Bush’s fiscal train wreck.