Big government is a term generally used in a pejorative manner by factions on the political right or by those who believe in individual freedoms to describe a government that is too intrusive in too many areas of individual citizens' lives. This could include criticisms of governments that try to exercise too much control over business, but also includes criticisms of governments that aim to provide too much welfare, or are too prescriptive on preventative health issues, for example by trying to influence behaviour on smoking or eating. Typically, when people use the term big government, they are also describing a government that is physically large and expensive to run.
After listening to US President Barack Obama's second inaugural address in January 2013, at least one commentator remembered President Ronald Reagan's promise 32 years earlier that "the era of big government is over". Obama's speech hinted that he intended to protect Medicare and Social Security as well as invest in younger generations – all big government moves that had been criticised as such by opponents in the Tea Party populist movement.