Chris Edwards

Privatize the USPS

The next president will confront a range of fiscal crises that the current president has ignored. One of them is the ongoing implosion of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). With the rise of email, the volume of snail mail has plunged, and the USPS has lost more than $50 billion since 2007. The red ink will continue to gush as more bill paying, advertising, invitations, and other communications go online.

Drug War Defeats Taxpayers

The federal government spends about $30 billion a year on the war on drugs. Much of the spending is wasteful and counterproductive. This week, for example, an auditor’s report revealed how the drug bureaucracy flushed $86 million down the drain on an anti-drug aircraft that was never used.

Don’t Get Fooled by Trump

Watching Pete Townshend wailing on his Fender Stratocaster last night at the Verizon Center reminded of what I’d read about Fender’s history. Part of the Fender story regards how the firm got hammered by Japanese competition in the 1970s, but then bounced back by refocusing on quality. So while I was listening to “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” I’m embarrassed to say I was pondering Donald Trump’s misguided statements favoring protectionism.

America’s Trillion-Dollar Bureaucracy

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is America’s first $1 trillion bureaucracy. HHS will spend $1.1 trillion in 2016, which is one $1 million repeated one million times.

You are paying for it, so you might want to know that:

Trump’s Irresponsible Position on Social Security

In the Republican debate last night, CNN’s Dana Bash pressed the candidates on how they would deal with Social Security. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz gave solid answers, explaining that the system was headed toward insolvency, suggesting ways to slow spending growth, and scolding candidates who denied the need for cost-saving reforms.  

Presidential Spending

President Obama has issued his final federal budget, which includes his proposed spending for 2017. With this data, we can compare spending growth over eight years under Obama to spending growth under past presidents.

Figures 1 and 2 show annual average real (inflation-adjusted) spending growth during presidential terms back to Eisenhower. The data comes from Table 6.1 here, but I made two adjustments, as discussed below.

Free The Skies

Since Margaret Thatcher’s British reforms in the 1980s, more than $3 trillion in government businesses have been privatized around the world, and few have been renationalized. Privatization simply works.

Bush Grew Bureaucracy Faster than Obama

President Obama’s new budget includes a table showing the number of executive branch civilian employees the administration expects to have in 2017. With that, we can compare the growth in federal government employment over eight years of Obama (2009 to 2017) to eight years of President George W. Bush (2001 to 2009).

Pentagon Bureaucracy

Many articles in recent years have expressed concern about Pentagon bloat. Mackenzie Eaglen called for streamlining the Pentagon’s “army of bureaucrats.” Ray Mabus said“Twenty percent of the Pentagon budget, one dollar out of five, is spent on … the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the defense agencies … Pure overhead.”

President Obama’s FY2017 Budget

President Obama has released his budget for fiscal year 2017. The president’s spending and revenue proposals will be mainly dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, including his $3 trillion in proposed tax hikes.

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