As discussed in my last post, spending directed at helping the poor has increased, not declined, in the "neoliberal period" (since 1980). What about regulation of business? I found a study that gives estimates of federal spending on regulation since 1960. It distinguishes between "social regulation," which "includes regulatory agencies that address issues related to "health, safety, and the environment" and "economic regulation," which "is more likely to be industry-specific." Here are the figures for spending on economic and social regulation (excluding homeland security) in constant (2009) dollars.
So can we discard the whole idea of "neoliberalism"? I wish the answer were yes, because I dislike the term (partly because there are too many "neo" and "post" terms already, and partly because it is bound to be confusing to most Americans, since the "liberalism" involved is pretty much the opposite of what we now mean by liberalism). However, there is a germ of truth in it. The report distinguished between "financial," "general business," and "industry-specific" regulation. Spending on the first two increased pretty steadily, but spending on "industry-specific" regulation fell between 1970 and 1980, and didn't reach its 1970 level until 2000. As a share of the economy, it's now less than it was in 1960. At one time, there was a lot of regulation of prices and operations in industries like airlines, interstate trucking, and communications. This was cut back in the late 1970s, and much of it hasn't been restored. As I recall, the deregulation movement was supported by both conservatives and a significant number of liberals (who argued that regulatory agencies tended to be "captured" by the industries they were supposed to regulate). You could say that the newer form of liberalism is more inclined to accept that markets are an effective way of producing goods and services, but not more inclined to accept the market distribution of income. This is an important change, but it's not a simple move to the right.