President Obama’s dream of connecting 80 percent of Americans to a high-speed rail line appears to be dead. Congress appropriated $8 billion for high-speed rail in the 2009 stimulus bill and $2 billion more in the 2010 appropriations bill. But, after newly elected governors of Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin rejected high-speed rail projects in those states, Congress declined to include any more funds in 2011 and it is unlikely to spend any more on this boondoggle as long as Republicans have a hold on the House.
In my quest to downsize the government, I’ve been looking at the Department of Labor budget recently. My vision is to cut federal spending to create a freer and more prosperous society. James Madison’s vision was for a federal government of “few and defined” powers.
A Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services survey of 527 executives at mid-market companies (annual revenues of between $50 million and $1 billion) found “tempered optimism” that the economic recovery will continue. However, the survey also found significant concern over government fiscal and regulatory policies.
Chris Edwards has released an updated version of his Plan to Cut Spending and Balance the Federal Budget. The plan proposes spending cuts of more than $1 trillion annually by 2021, which would balance the budget without resorting to damaging tax increases. Federal spending would be reduced to 18 percent of gross domestic product by 2021 under the plan, which compares to President Obama's projected spending that year of 24.2 percent of GDP.
A lot of Americans are aware that their tax dollars subsidize cotton farmers. However, it’s unlikely that many Americans are aware that their tax dollars are now supporting cotton farmers in Brazil. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) calls it “the single stupidest public policy I have ever encountered.”
The Daily Caller asked me which federal department or agency I would most like to see eliminated. If I actually had the power to eliminate one department or agency, I would choose the Department of Health & Human Services, which houses two key pillars of the federal welfare state (Medicare and Medicaid). However, I decided to choose the Community Development Block Grant program for the purpose of bringing attention to the desirability of eliminating federal subsidies to state and local government:
The other day I noted that the budget cuts agreed to last week contained lots of familiar faces. Many of the agencies and programs getting a trim were also cut in 1995 in a rescissions package put together by Gingrich Republicans. In the fifteen intervening years, federal spending exploded across the board, which means that an occasional trim job doesn’t accomplish much if the goal is to limit government.
The government’s air traffic controllers have been sleeping on the job, watching movies rather than guiding planes, and misdirecting the First Lady’s plane over Washington. There have been soaring numbers of airplane near misses caused by ATC errors over the last year.
What do these federal agencies and programs have in common?
In 1960 Sen. Barry Goldwater called the policies of the Eisenhower administration “a dime store New Deal”—a promise to deliver to the voters everything the Democrats promised, but at a discount. And that has been a fundamental dividing line in the Republican party ever since: Should the GOP challenge the Democrats’ fundamental commitment to an ever-bigger federal government, or only promise to deliver services more efficiently and at lower cost to taxpayers?