Chris Edwards and I have repeatedly called for policymakers to get specific when it comes to spending cuts. Policymakers who want to cut spending should at least pick an agency or program and work to have it eliminated. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has done this by introducing legislation to terminate the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
What I really like about Pompeo’s justification for eliminating the EDA is his recognition that the federal government should not be subsidizing local affairs:
I believe investing should be done by private citizens with their own money, not by federal agencies. I have spent my time in Congress working to create an environment that encourages such investment and risk-taking behavior. The Economic Development Administration is a White House earmark machine and, for the past 45 years, has redistributed wealth for purely local projects. In light of the nation’s $14.8 trillion debt, the federal government simply must focus on its core constitutional responsibilities.
No area of the country has been left out. In fact, there have been a number of projects in the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas that have received EDA grants. I do not fault the grant recipients—the money was available, the grant requirements were met and these applicants were simply responding to a federally created incentive system. The problem is that nearly all of these projects would have gone forward without EDA funds as the source for a tiny fraction of total project funding. With state, local and, most importantly, private sector sources of funding, economic development projects can—and should—move forward without utilizing the EDA as a crutch.
Kansas taxpayers should not be funding local projects all across the country, just as citizens in the other 49 states need not be funding our local projects. Imagine the Kansas projects that would have created jobs in our state had the EDA not drained billions of dollars from taxpayer pockets over the decades of EDA’s existence. That is the real job-destroying legacy of EDA.
See this Cato essay for more on why the Economic Development Administration should be terminated.