Two points: First, I was an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago when Prof. Laffer was a teacher there and first propounding his "supply side" economic theories. What I observed, and what was the subject of my undergraduate thesis, was the extent to which participation in student government during the mid-1970's was a function of showing up in order to claim your group's needed budget for on-campus activities. Once the budgetting was done, the more politically active interests groups, as I recall the Young Sparticists League, became the most dominant group as everyone else went off to do what they had come to seek financial support for doing. The YSL was something of an embarassment, I sensed, to the University's burghers so it was proposed that funding of activities would be managed through a "Major Activities Board", to which organizations would submit their budgetary requests for funding and by-pass all the political stuff. Not sure how that turned out as I graduated before this new regime went into place. Seemed rather fishy though.
Second point, Bill Clinton's attack on federal government "Santa Claus" activities was actually the result of Newt Gingrich and the Tea Party's "Contract With America" which from my perspective and experience (I was a LSC-funded legal aid attorney) was better described as The Contract On The Poor. Clinton (and spouse - she had been Chair of the Legal Service Corporation), did nothing to protect their allies and the foot soldiers, let alone the poor for a very simple reason - Clinton had been a Governor of a relatively poor, Southern state (Arkansas) and had imbibed all of the shibboleths about the poor endemic to that region. And then there was his personal background.
Democratic functionaries need to shift from the Santa Claus motif and embrace their inner Robin Hoods.