Obama to Consolidate Agencies?
Obama is really pulling out all the stops this year. I actually think he feels threatened by the Republicans, because he’s now looking at a plan to actually “shrink government” by consolidating agencies. From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama will ask Congress on Friday for greater power to shrink the federal government, and his first idea is merging six sprawling trade and commerce agencies whose overlapping programs can be baffling to businesses, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
Obama will call on Congress to give him a type of reorganizational power last held by a president when Ronald Reagan was in office. The Obama version would be a so-called consolidation authority allowing him to propose mergers that promise to save money and help consumers. The deal would entitle him to an up-or-down vote from Congress in 90 days.
It would be up to lawmakers, therefore, to first grant Obama this fast-track authority and then decide whether to approve any of his specific ideas.
For once in my life—and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but—I will say “Good for Obama.” First, he’s asking for authority from Congress, as the President should do under the Constitution. Second, he’s consolidating overlapping and duplicative agencies, something I pointed out should be done to fix this country. Specifically, the article says he will (or try) to do the following:
Should he prevail, Obama’s first project would be to combine six major operations of the government that focus on business and trade.
They are: the Commerce Department’s core business and trade functions; the Small Business Administration; the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; the Export-Import Bank; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and the Trade and Development Agency. The goal would be one agency designed to help businesses thrive.
The official said 1,000 to 2,000 jobs would be cut, but the administration would do so through attrition; that is, as people routinely leave their jobs over time.
The administration said the merger would save $3 billion over 10 years by getting rid of duplicative overhead costs, human resources divisions and programs.
So, for once, Obama is doing something good. Or is he?
As always, it comes down to politics. Obama is making these noises to assure moderates that yes, he has listened to their cries of concern over government bureaucracy, and he magnaminously use his power to assuage their fears. If he does a cut a couple of thousand jobs and saves a few billion, Republicans would be fools not to jump on that. Whether or not these savings materialize is another matter. I have concerns they won’t, because, as I said, this stinks of an election year gimmick.
And why is he going to Congress? He’s has already demonstrated he has nothing but contempt for them. Where was Congress when he decided to send off the military to Libya or Uganda? Where was Congress when he appointed Cordray, in what by all means is an unconstitutional act? So why is he turning to them now? I’m a little suspicious.
Finally, let us remember the most famous words of one Barry Goldwater:
I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size.
This is what we should be going after. It’s not about making government efficient, it’s about actually chopping off parts and shrinking it. However, I will concede that this may be a good first step in actually getting to that.
I’m going to follow this one. I can’t really say whether or not this is an overstepping of presidential power, as he is asking for Congressional authority, and Congress would have to approve his decisions. We’ll see, and maybe there will be one good thing to come from the Obama Administration.