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Attempting to reduce the size of government program-by-program is almost certainly a fool's errand. With a trillion-dollar deficit looming every year, ending earmarks or finding even $60 billion of "wasteful" programs is not going to help much.
There needs to be an immediate and radical reduction in the size of government and its functions. Whole government departments need to be swept away.
Foremost among these should be the Department of Commerce, which is where Big Government started. Those agencies it supervises that have a genuine and/or constitutional role (like the Census Bureau) can be spun off as executive agencies. Its international trade functions should be transferred to the Treasury Department.
Also on the chopping block should be the departments of Energy, Labor, and Education. Energy should be provided and regulated by the free market -- perhaps the department's last function should be to abolish energy monopolies around the country.
The best way to find energy solutions that will actually work in a cost-effective, practical way is to let private businesses compete to find them.
Energy subsidies only retard our ability to become energy independent, because they divert taxpayer capital to inefficient, uneconomic, and politically favored projects, or simply bribe oil, gas, and coal companies to put up with burdensome regulations.
We don't need more wind farms ... and we don't need more biofuels that jack up the cost of food and waste more energy than they produce. All such energy subsidies should be abolished.
As for the Labor Department, its mission statement, which can be found on its webpage, is "to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights."
In other words, the department has no valid constitutional function. It ... spends $120 billion a year, which, if refunded to the taxpayer along with the abolition of the department would do more for labor and stimulating the creation of jobs than anything President Obama has yet done.
Meanwhile the Department of Education could better be titled the Department of Misallocating Education Dollars, as its real function appears to be that of a vacuum that sucks up taxpayer dollars to distribute to fellow education bureaucrats around the country -- who then put their own interests ahead of our children's interests.
Two decades ago, abolishing the department was part of the Republican platform. It should be front and center in the public square once again.
Writing in The Washington Examiner, columnist Mona Charen reminds us that abolishing the Department of Education isn't extreme, it is what any rational government reformer would do.
The Department of Education exists primarily, like other bureaucracies, continually to expand its reach.
Parents are the primary educators of their children -- that is their responsibility, and it is a responsibility they can be empowered to execute more fully the more the funding and management of the schools is entirely a local proposition. Hey, federal bureaucrats -- leave our kids alone!
Also on the chopping block should be the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Housing and urban development are the business of building contractors and local communities; it is not a rightful, or necessary, function of the federal government; and whatever is usefully done by the Department of Health and Human Services would certainly be better and more efficiently done at the state or even the local level -- closer to the people it is meant to serve.