The Department of Commerce is home to important institutions such as the Census Bureau and the Patent and Trademark Office. It is also home to unneeded programs that subsidize businesses and fund local development projects. In addition, the department administers misguided foreign trade policies aimed at boosting exports and restricting imports.
The department will spend about $11 billion in 2016, or about $88 for every U.S. household. After adjusting for inflation, spending has declined 4 percent since 2000. It employs 44,000 workers, administering more than 94 subsidy programs, and has more than 250 offices worldwide.
- Economic Development Administration. This agency provides subsidies to state and local governments for activities that are not proper federal responsibilities.
- International Trade Administration. While trade is important to the U.S. economy, the ITA’s activities can distort trade and lead to political favoritism and corruption.
- Business Subsidies. A number of the department’s programs subsidize business activities, which creates an unfair burden on taxpayers.
Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 1776