One of my pet peeves is people equating government expenditures or worse government receipts to the “size” of government. There are many issues here not least of which is spending through the tax code.

Tax credits have the same effect as government spending but reduce receipts rather increase expenditure. Thus one can claim to have “shrunk” the government when the scope of government control has been expanded.

However, even more invisible are government regulations, which tend to be far more onerous than taxation and far more intrusive than spending.

To show how this could be we could cut the size of the Federal Government in half tomorrow by scrapping Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and replacing it with the following regulations

  1. Every person between the ages of 15 and 65 must house, feed, clothe, entertain, transport or otherwise provide for the needs of some person over the age of 65, using not less than 500 hours a year of time or equivalent compensation in kind. The individual assisted as well as hours or in-kind supplies offered must be documented and submitted to local authorities each year. Failure to comply will result in a sentence of no less than 25 years in a maximum security prison.
  2. No person or facility authorized or licensed to practice or dispense medicine in the United States may refuse for any reason the prompt and courteous treatment of any person over the age of 65, under the age of 14 or designated as in need by the local authorities. Failure to comply will result in the immediate suspension of all licenses and a sentence of no less than 10 years in a maximum security prison.

Now you would need some more language to steer the black market in the direction that you want. For example, if the elderly person who is assisted trades the in-kind item to a non-elderly person then it no longer counts, etc.

These regulations would cut government spending tremendously and could result in a large decrease in taxes, but they would be far more onerous than simply requiring that people pay taxes.