All across the country right now, local and state governments are finding they can't pay their bills. Schools are losing teachers, street lights are going dark, garbage is piling up in public parks, and cops are suddenly an optional expense.
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This week we travel to Colorado Springs, to Trenton and to the office of Grover Norquist to ask: Is this the kind of country we want? One where government gets smaller? Or should we all pay higher taxes, and keep government bigger?
The Sound of Sirens
Dream Come True
Perhaps the biggest proponent of smaller government in the United States is lobbyist and activist Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. He envisions a government reduced in size by half, and has compelled scores of conservative politicians take pledges to never raise taxes. Host Ira Glass speaks with Norquist about his strategies and beliefs, and learns which side seems to be winning. (14 1/2 minutes)
Do You Want a Wake Up Call?
After the recession hit, Colorado Springs was in rough shape. City services were being cut left and right. Then one man wrote a manifesto—a blueprint for how the city could solve its problems. Planet Money's Robert Smith tells the story. Robert is a member of the Planet Money team. (27 minutes)