The government can’t even do THAT right.
Maybe what we learned from the shutdown is that for all of the talk, all of the money, all of the skyrocketing debt, the federal government is mostly non-essential. The State Department? Mostly unnecessary and designed for another era. If the president wants to talk to the leader of Burkina Faso, he can send him an email. Instead of the diplomacy in service of American interests, State has become mostly a colonial office for our post Cold War policy of moral imperialism. And State is one of the original cabinet level departments which we actually need in some much more limited capacity. It gets worse from there. The myriad departments and agencies, variously referred to as ‘the bureaucracy’, ‘the administrative state’, or more malevolently ‘the deep state’, represent much of the swamp that President Trump promised to drain. In that regard, the partial shut-down can be seen as consistent with his larger platform. But he should make it permanent. Here are some concrete ideas for the president to win the politics of the shutdown and do some good for the country at the same time:
1. Propose the permanent shuttering of non-essential cabinet level departments. Closing the Department of Energy would save $32.5 billion, Department of Commerce, $61.8 billion, and the Department of Education, $59.9 billion. These are not new or radical ideas for Republicans. Reagan tried to close the Department of Education in 1981. And the current Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, proposed closing his own Department when running for president. Are they really non-essential? In a word, yes. But let me put it in perspective with a few questions: The Department of Education was created in 1979. Does anyone believe that American education has improved since then? Does anyone think American commerce would cease if the department were closed?
2. Offer early retirement to non-essential federal employees who have been furloughed. This is common practice in the private sector. It would help make the federal government more efficient, thus reducing a drag on the economy, and would allow those people to pursue more productive employment while giving them the financial security to make the transition.
3. Encourage Congress to reassert its constitutional power as the primary lawmaking body of the federal government. Congress long ago ceded this authority to the deep state which is unelected, unaccountable, and makes far more law than Congress. For example, in 2016, Congress passed 214 bills which became law while the deep state made 3,853 ‘rules’ with the force of law.
4. Return power to state and local government. Over the past few generations, Washington has turned state governments into little more than administrators of federal programs. This action eviscerated our system of federalism and deprived the people not only of one of the most effective checks on federal power but also of the benefits of robust, responsive state and local government. The shutdown is an opportunity to begin righting that wrong.
The stated reason for the shutdown is funding for the border wall, but there are so many more opportunities in play for Trump and the America First agenda that it would be (a) shame to, as Progressives like to say, let a crisis go to waste.
It surely would. These are all great ideas, not a single one of which has a ghost of a chance of ever being implemented, more’s the pity. Any one of them would do a lot to put America back on the proper course…which is the last thing in the world our Uniparty and Shadow-Government masters want to see happen.