— Ronald Reagan American politician, 40th president of the United States (in office from 1981 to 1989) 1911 - 2004
1980s, First term of office (1981–1985), First Inaugural address (1981), Context: In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.
Some sources indicate the phrase 'government is the problem' was not part of the speech. (E.g. yale.edu http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/reagan1.asp). Live recordings of the address demonstrate that Reagan did indeed use the phrase in question. See Ronald Reagan: First Inaugural Address http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IleiqUDYpFQ; start at 6:08