- Dec 2018
- Tempe, AZ
Donald Trump had gone full Reagan by boldly taking full responsibility for a government shutdown over a border wall. Now — with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeting in unison over the "Trump Shutdown" — The Donald should consider the possible opening to do The Gipper one better.
The president should further leverage this opportunity to make his case to render the shutdown real — and permanent — for swathes of the federal Leviathan.
In 1981, the Great Communicator and his conservative cohort swept into office promising the wholesale elimination of a number of long-standing federal programs. But the majority of his efforts to deep-six deeply ingrained agencies and departments also foundered as special interests and bureaucrats teamed up with patrons in Congress (from both parties) to protect pet programs.
Fast forward to today. Speaker-to-be Pelosi and Sen. Schumer see enormous media advantage in accepting the president's invitation to hang the shutdown around his neck and extend it long enough for someone, somewhere to feel pain — at least weeks, and possibly longer.
Shutdown Of The Unneeded
But every day they drag out the shutdown, they are proving the point of conservatives by demonstrating their willingness to deprive citizens of the services of a quarter of their federal government for a significant period of time — over a disputed amount representing one-tenth of the 2019 budget.
In essence, the Democratic leadership (oxymoron alert!) is showing the American people that in reality, many of the "nonessential" programs could be labeled with a close synonym: "Not needed."
Some agencies affected — which include the departments of Treasury, State, Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Transportation — do operate important programs. But many actually critical efforts within these departments continue apace during the shutdown.
And by allowing so many functions to be suspended for a significant period of time with most of the public not even noticing, the Democrats are making the president's case that government ought not expend taxpayers' hard-earned dollars on them in the first place.
Trump's Reorganization Revived
The president and Republicans in Congress should capitalize on Democratic delight at disrupting these "nonessential" operations by reviving a 132-page reorganization plan he laid out in June. That blueprint would slim government by, among other actions, merging the Education and Labor Departments, reorganizing the Department of Health and Human Services and consolidating a range of services and regulatory agencies.
The Democrats at the time, following a long tradition that started back with — appropriately — Reagan budget submissions, declared the plan "dead on arrival."
But now, in essentially declaring a quarter of the government sufficiently superfluous to be put on ice indefinitely to score political points, the opposition can hardly defend making the entire morass more efficient.
Yet why stop there? Why not completely erase the Education Department, conceived by Jimmy Carter as a sop to the teachers' unions for endorsing his candidacy? After all, the agency has squandered much of its time not advancing the cause of learning but on counterproductive actions — like burdening universities with extra-constitutional and unjust edicts on sexual assault proceedings and K-12 schools with mind-bending mandates advancing the transgender agenda.
Or instead of just moving the furniture around at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as Trump has suggested, call for excising the entire Commerce Department — which according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, exists mainly to provide businesses "bailouts, handouts, and the spoils of redistribution."
Make 'Partial' Permanent
And in addition to following through on an earlier Trump proposal to follow the lead of those small-government adherents in Europe and privatize the Federal Aviation Administration — a move that would free airlines to bring our antiquated air traffic system into the 21st century — insist on turning the Food and Drug Administration's drug regulatory activities over to industry, so it can focus on advancing cures based on sound science instead of blocking progress in pursuit of politics.
The possibilities are endless — and the precedent is immediate. President Trump has already permanently "shut down" parts of government by chopping out, according to the White House, 176 "outdated, unnecessary or duplicative regulatory actions," saving industry and citizens $23 billion in costs.
Certainly, among the programs Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer have now certified as "outdated, unnecessary or duplicative" enough to put on hiatus, more than enough savings can be unearthed to pay for the president's promised border wall.
Every day the "partial shutdown" continues, Democrats are proving President Reagan partly wrong — they are indeed voluntarily reducing the size of the federal government, if only for a season. President Trump should seize on their effective concession to sell, and expand, his reorganization plan — and thereby succeed where his predecessor could not in ending the "eternal life" of, or at least streamlining, many of the suspended programs and others.