Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Republicans’ fret over spending is misplaced

The Republicans in Congress are hell bent on cutting spending.  And with federal expenditures approaching $3.6 trillion, they have good reason to be concerned.  However, by focusing solely on spending, they are eschewing the real problem: federal encroachment.

Currently, we have fifteen executive cabinets.  They are (in no particular order):

Dept. of State
Dept. of Treasury
Dept. of Defense
Dept. of Justice
Dept. of Interior
Dept. of Agriculture
Dept. of Commerce
Dept. of Labor
Dept. of Health and Human Services
Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
Dept. of Transportation
Dept. of Energy
Dept. of Education
Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Dept. of Homeland Security

Whew.  That’s a lot of departments.  Many have argued for the elimination, or at least the combining of several departments.  Do we really need a cabinet-level department of Interior, Commerce, and Energy?  I would argue that the cost/benefit of most departments don’t justify their existence.  Factor in the regulatory burden and any benefit derived from correcting market failures evaporates rather quickly.

The number, size, and scope of departments are only the beginning, though.  Nestled within each of these cabinet-level department lie several other, often obscure, federal agencies.  

For example, the Commerce Department has over 20 “key” agencies.  They are:

Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
Bureau of Industry and Security
Bureau of the Census
Economic Development Administration
Economics & Statistics Administration
Export Enforcement
Import Administration
International Trade Administration (ITA)
Manufacturing and Services
Marine and Aviation Operations
Market Access and Compliance
Minority Business Development Agency
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Ocean Service
National Technical Information Service
National Telecommunications & Information Administration
National Weather Service (NOAA)
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
Patent & Trademark Office
Trade Promotion and U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service
 *source: USA.gov

It would take several pages to list the entire federal bureaucracy, and I’m not sure the exact number is known to any one group or person.  

While the Republicans are right to go after spending, what’s really needed is the elimination of federal agencies that have outlived their original purpose.  Reducing federal spending protects the few (and decreasing) number of taxpayers, but reducing the size and scope of the leviathan state protects every American’s liberties.  

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