Before beginning, I want to point out that this article only deals with the executive branch of the federal government and not the legislative or judicial branches. Also, this is being presented as a solution to the nearly $30 Trillion in national debt, that’s going to keep growing and a government that’s destroying our republic.
Before reading further, it’s important to take note that I’m not merely proposing cosmetic changes, where we combine a bunch of departments and agencies just to create newer bureaucratic monstrosities. In the end, the overall goals are to have a smaller, less costly, more manageable federal government, that can accomplish all the things it must do, especially as defined by the Constitution.
Asking the Right Questions
To get the government we need, moving forward, we need to right-size government, especially the federal government, which I’ve termed, “the right-sizing of government.” These ideas can be applied at all levels, but especially needs to happen at the federal level. The reason I say, “right-sizing” and not “downsizing,” is because downsizing merely means “to make something smaller.” Right-sizing as I define it means we’ll have an Executive Branch that’s large enough to do all the things we need it to do, especially as outlined by the U.S. Constitution but not any larger. Right-sizing also means that some departments and agencies will grow as they absorb other departments and agencies, but overall, the size and cost of government would decrease.
The first thing we must ask ourselves, does the Constitution still mean something? What should be the role of the federal government? Do we want to continue to have a large and growing federal government that’s crushing the American Taxpayer with out-of-control deficit spending, where we allow it to add trillions to the national debt annually? Do we want to continue to have a government that can infringe on our civil liberties on a whim? Do we want a government that wages endless undeclared wars, wars that have little to no oversight? Do we want to grow the “nanny state” and allow for anarchist, socialist, or communist to grab power? Or do we want to ensure our voices are the only ones that matter to our government officials, elected and otherwise?
Why “Right Size”
As the great Thomas Sowell said, “If politicians stopped meddling with things they don’t understand, there would be a more drastic reduction in the size of government than anyone in either party advocates for.”
Mind you, the type of plan I’m advocating for, or any plan really would be fought tooth and nail by Democrats and many Republicans alike, not to mention the special interest groups and lobbyists who’ve done their level best to bankrupt and destroy our country. That’s not to say that bankrupting and destroying our nation has been their goal, but nonetheless it’s something that’s happening due to many of their actions.
Also, those opposed would fill the American people’s heads full of misinformation bringing many of them to oppose such a plan as well. Mind you, opposing right sizing would be done so to the detriment of every American, to include the generations to come.
One would think that more people would already be clamoring for this type of plan, especially since the largesse of our federal government is crushing our nation. Crushing us through spending, taxes, overburdensome legislation and regulations, warrantless spying, undeclared wars, and a military stretched to the breaking point, politicians using the various apparatus of government to attack Americans and their political rivals alike and more.
Think about this, federal spending, whether warranted or not, represents money taken from the productive private sector and sent to the far less productive public sector. Most of this spending goes toward benefits and subsidies, but they rarely if ever enhance economic productivity. When the private sector isn’t productive, the income of every American falls. And as federal spending rises, the pressure to raise taxes is felt in Congress and they, in turn, tell the American people it’s a necessity. When taxes go up, the incentives in the private sector to be more productive by working, creating jobs, investing, saving, and growing or starting a business go down. Additionally, when taxes are increased, so too do the instances of illegal and unproductive activities such as tax avoidance, black market-economy activity, and more.
We need to admit that much (if not most) federal spending is wasteful, misdirected, and goes to fund many mismanaged federal programs. Prevalent in the system are frequent cost overruns, fraud, waste and abuse, constant bureaucratic failures with no incentive to remedy them, unlike in the private sector. In the private sector, these types of failures are remedied as soon as they’re found or are remedied by competition, bankruptcy, and other market forces.
The private sector benefits the American people, both directly and indirectly, while federal programs often only benefit special interest groups while harming more Americans than they’re supposed to help. The continued growth of the federal government runs contrary to the tradition of federalism and as James Madison said, the role of the federal government should be “few and defined.” Sadly, many states and local governments have abdicated their roles to the federal government as federal aid and programs increased beginning in the 1950s and ‘60s. After all, if they don’t play ball then they’re not going to get the money the federal government stole from taxpayers in the first place.
Consolidate and Reorganize
On a regular basis, entities within the federal government reorganize themselves, mind you this doesn’t mean a reduction in size, scope, or budgets (it often means the opposite), but it does happen, which means it’s something that can be undertaken. However, in the case of bringing multiple departments and agencies together, this part would need to happen simultaneously with other processes.
The consolidation and reorganization aspects are the biggest parts of this plan, which brings together various departments and agencies that overlap or are similar in scope and mission then compartmentalizes them where needed. As an example, the world’s most well-known intelligence agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is compartmented with many different directorates, each handling aspects of the agency’s overall mission.
Even within each directorate, they have different offices or teams that have their own distinct mission set or responsibility that when combined with others accomplishes the agency’s mission. Compartmentalizing can serve many functions, for one it helps control information that’s on a “need to know basis,” and it helps to make the management of large institutions more feasible, all while ensuring that areas of responsibility are defined. It’s from these three aspects primarily that we should approach this entire process, especially when it comes to defense, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies.
A Phased Approach
It’s important to note that the timeline I’ve given for each phase is wishful thinking, however, if we’re serious about the survival of our nation then something like this would go a long way in ensuring the survivability of our republic. Regardless, we shouldn’t allow a timeline to deter us from accomplishing our goals, which ultimately is the survival of our nation.
- Phase 1 (2-4 Months): Identify Departments and Agencies to Keep or Close
- Phase 2 (2-4 Months): Identify Department and Agency Managers
- Phase 3 (6 Months-1 Year): Immediate Elimination
- Phase 4 (2-3 Years): Domestic
- Phase 5 (2 Years): Federal Law Enforcement
- Phase 6 (2 Years): Intelligence
- Phase 7 (2 Years): Defense
- Phase 8 (6 Months-1 Year): Finalization
Note: Many of these phases can run concurrently with one another. Also, expect another article soon where I’ll outline in more detail each phase.
As previously stated, the goals aren’t to merely make cosmetic changes, by combining a bunch of departments and agencies just to create newer bureaucratic monstrosities. Again, as previously stated, the overall goals are to have a smaller, less costly, more manageable federal government, that can accomplish all the things it must do as defined by the Constitution.
By undertaking this endeavor, in addition to reducing the number of departments and agencies, it would reduce the number of overall government employees to a level needed to perform the functions of government. This is a plus due to the fact it eliminates all associated costs such as salaries, healthcare, and any long-term cost that comes when a person retires from the government. You may say that I’m being heartless, I’m not, after all, the government is funded by first taking from you and other taxpayers, in fact, one might assert that this is the least heartless move. After all, we shouldn’t have government employees that fall within the parameters as “non-essential workers.” Everyone, regardless of if they’re a janitor, law enforcement, personnel management, etc. is either needed or they’re not.
If We Do Nothing Else
If we do nothing else, we should immediately move to ensure that we eliminate every board, commission, advisory panel, directorate, etc. that has outlived its usefulness or surpassed the goals of its original mandate(s). This includes entities that fall within existing departments and agencies that are hard to justify keeping on the books. At the same time, we should move every independent government agency under the umbrella of a cabinet department where possible to provide better oversight and to prepare for the time when America is finally ready to “right-size” our federal government.
My plan wouldn’t allow independent government agencies, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I’m not saying we should do away with an agency just because it’s unpopular, but we should roll them under the umbrella of a cabinet department and consolidate them with like agencies and offices in other existing departments.
As a part of ending all independent government agencies, we need to immediately put in place strict legislation that eliminates the force of federal regulations or at least, puts in place an expiration timeline for them once enacted. The goal would be to end what amounts to backdoor legislating, of course, this could still happen regardless of if this plan ever comes to fruition or not.
I should also point out that I’m not proposing ending the ability of a regulatory agency to impose regulations or even eliminating their ability to enforce them, after all, a rule without enforcement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. However, the main goal here is to force the Legislative Branch to legislate, instead of standing idly by. This would also force a sitting President to either sign or veto the legislation.
The current heavy-handed system is dysfunctional and allows for Congress to simply blame any executive branch agency for either going too far or by attacking a sitting President when they exercise their authority over a given agency. Political games like this paint a given agency as either the good guy or bad guy, but it never holds them to account, which hurts the nation overall. We especially see this every election cycle, but if you pay attention as I do, you can see it on a near-daily basis in Washington where Congress rails against executive branch agencies and their regulations, especially on the campaign stump or as they grandstand in committee hearings or the floor of the U.S. House or Senate. This grandstanding, just like how Kamala Harris carried herself in committees, is done to raise the individual legislator’s profile and nothing more. After all, nothing meaningful ever comes out of these hearings except more division and distrust.
The reason(s) nothing meaningful is ever accomplished is the fact that most Members of Congress don’t really want to have to take a stand or go on the record with a vote. This has come about because Congress needs a bad guy or foil to their good guy role. For decades, the Legislative and Executive Branch has maintained the status quo ultimately forcing the American people to bear the burden.
I do think that executive regulations are still needed but should have an expiration date of say 6-12 months, this would give Congress more than enough time to draft, debate, and pass legislation if truly needed. This would reduce the powers of the activist regulators, regulators who weren’t elected to make laws but were either appointed or are career officials that have de-facto legislative powers. These regulations are ones that crush businesses, burden small business owners needlessly, and unfairly target most Americans in one way or another. By putting in place expiration dates, helps give much-needed transparency, eliminates a lot of corruption, requires administrators and cabinet secretaries to be good custodians of the taxpayer’s dollars, and forces elected officials to be accountable for the things they vote for and not allow them to shift blame elsewhere.
[photo: Illustration by Joanna Andreasson; Image:Martin Falbisoner/Creative Commons]
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