Can the public sector ever behave in the same manner as the private sector? The White House thinks it can, and now it wants to make government run like a business. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney recently announced a new proposal that changes how the federal government is structured and brings it into the 21st century. It likely won’t shrink the size of the goliath, but anything might be better than the status quo.
Mulvaney unveiled a series of initiatives that will consist of merging departments, shifting responsibilities, and privatizing the United States Postal Service. It’s about time, Mulvaney noted, that the government adopts the attitude of change from the private sector.
“Businesses change all the time,” he said in a statement. “Government doesn’t, and one of the things you get when you hire a businessman to become president is you bring this attitude from the private sector.”
So, what is inside the plan? Here are the biggest proposals:
- Merge the Departments of Education and Labor.
- Move the food stamp program, SNAP, to the Department of Health and Human Services (renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare).
- Establish a new Council on Public Assistance to oversee welfare like SNAP and Medicaid.
- Coalesce the Department of Agriculture’s food safety regulators with those in the FDA.
- Privatize the postal service.
Some Democrats are shaking their heads. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, says the plan is “dead on arrival” and called it “a new talking point” for the administration.
A Panacea to Incompetence?
Many wise words have been uttered of government over the years. It would take the government 30 days to brew a cup of tea. If the government were in charge of the Sahara Desert, there’d be a shortage of sand in three years. Only the government can extract trillions of dollars every year from taxpayers and still run a budget deficit. If lying became illegal, there would be an epic silence across Washington.
And we’re paraphrasing.
For whatever reason, both sides of the political aisle believe they can make government work. It is a fatuous and unrealizable objective that even the most cynical of Americans falls for each election cycle. You just need to look at the ocean of red ink in the nation’s books to concede that neither Republican nor Democrat can transform the bureaucratic monstrosity into a paragon of morality and responsibility.
Is it a case of wishful thinking? Are we a bunch of starry-eyed dreamers? Or perhaps we’re not as pessimistic as our irksome rhetoric suggests.
Whether it’s on the campaign trail or during a speech at a conservative think tank luncheon, GOP officials and candidates often deride the state – and rightfully so. Yet, once they hold the keys to power, they slip into the trap. This could suggest one of two things: they don’t believe their own words and pay lip service to conservatives and libertarians to get votes, or power is truly a coquettish siren that turns strong-willed disciples of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand into statists (we’re looking at you Alan Greenspan).
One of the greatest mainstream icons of U.S. politics is undoubtedly former President Ronald Reagan. The witticisms he made, the warnings he presented, and the logical deductions he outlined to the American people pertaining to the iniquity and inefficiency of the state were as relevant in the 1980s as much as they are relevant today. Unfortunately, not even Reagan could successfully confront the leviathan. Sure, he cut taxes, but he could not rein in the size and scope of the federal government. It only got bigger.
With Republicans controlling the White House and Capitol Hill for at least a little while longer, the GOP is ostensibly trying to show off its conservative credentials. It’s possible that conservatives and libertarian may have wanted something a bit more radical even in an election year.
But, as the scores of Tea Party Republicans who have compromised on their principles several times to please the RINO leadership can attest to, it would be a fool’s errand to instill radical overhauls. You can’t change government because government changes you.
It’s like the old Groucho Marx joke: “Here are my principles. If you don’t like them, then I have others.”
Burn Down the Swamp
The swamp is too big. The welfare-warfare state cannot be taken down. The vested interests – life-long politicians, civil servants, and the military-industrial complex – rely on seeing the largess continue. Millions are directly or indirectly employed by the state. No matter how tapped out the average taxpayer is, our esteemed elected officials, many of whome think they are Santa Claus, will continue to tap that well – if taxpayers are broke, they’ll merely borrow or print the money.
Perhaps the current administration already understands this.
Democrats will shout policies that send tingles up and down leftists’ spines: universal healthcare, free education, basic income, social justice, and making the rich pay. Republicans will ape their opponents’ behavior, but instead pander to conservatives: fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, tax cuts, entitlement reform, and political incorrectness. What happens in the end? Government expands, and everyone is worse off, and then you have the Mulvaney endeavor that doesn’t scale back the state.
The latest proposal by the White House may get the endorsement from the likes of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) or Senator John McCain (R-AZ), but that’s doesn’t really elicit confidence among the anti-government crowd. Sixty-plus million Americans did not vote for the status quo, they wanted real change, and not the Obama kind either. Making America Great Again doesn’t mean growing government or shuffling around deck chairs, it means burning down the swamp, breaking the shackles of serfdom, and maximizing freedom.
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