On Shrinking Government

This should be, in principle, an Obama move that we can support.  Of course, the devil will be in the details, and this “shrinkage” is pretty trivial—only a reduction of 2,000, or so, civil servants out of a total Federal work force of nearly 4.5 million, and a cost reduction of walking around money—$3 billion over 10 years.  But it’s a start, and if we wait until the last step has been mapped out to a gnat’s patootie, the journey will never start.

What the President wants to do in the present case is consolidate some unnamed Commerce “core business functions” with the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Agency.

His idea has been under consideration for some time, but one objection to it is one that this poor, dumb Texas boy doesn’t understand.  Those earlier thoughts had also included moving the NOAA from Commerce to Interior, but there was “resistance internally to moving it to the Interior Department.”  The boss said to move, so off they go.  Where’s the problem?

Maybe, while we’re at it, we could also eliminate the EPA and the President’s Office of Legal Counsel.  Oh, wait….

The mechanics proposed are interesting, too, and are the real reason for my initial support (subject to satisfaction with the details, as always).  With this initial consolidation permission, the bill if passed, would let the President propose other reorganizations of his Executive Branch and require the Congress to give it an un-amended, up or down vote within 90 days.  Thus, the President gets more flexibility over the structure of his Branch, and the Congress retains its present power over the structure of the Federal government, including the Executive Branch.

However, the ability for either party to stall and to posture for political gain would become much more difficult.  And the members of Congress would have to be on the public record, in front of their constituents, for their individual decisions on the reorgs.  Moreover, amendments remain eminently possible: the pre-proposal dickerings that should be occurring anyway would get objections worked out, and the necessary modifications to satisfy the reasons for a down vote would constitute such amendments as well.

This wants a close look, devoid of political imperatives on both sides.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *