With the debt & deficits gaining more attention everyday, focus in the Republican primary has to a large extent been on how to trim the size & scope of the federal government. Rick Perry proposed cutting three cabinet level departments: Commerce, Education, and Energy. Not to be outdone, Ron Paul went further, proposing cutting five: the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior, and Education, together with other cuts to reduce $1 trillion in spending in year one of his presidency.
I’ve had discussion with more big government minded folk who exclaim: “but if you cut the Department of Education, how will we educate the children?” Interestingly, the Department of Education was founded in 1980, so I respond with: “gosh I don’t know… since your parents were educated before the DOE existed, they must be absolute blathering idiots.”
The Elephants in the Room
While elimination of various redundant and constitution-stretching departments is certainly not a bad idea, there are two main elephants in the room that make up the bulk of the federal budget: entitlements and defense. Most of these same Republican candidates, with the exception of Dr. Paul, who want to hack and slash at the department level show no desire to perform similar drastic cost cutting to the Department of Defense. They give lip service to reducing the entitlement burden, but really at the end of the day propose little more than a dent in cost restructuring. Worse yet, Democrats show little desire to affect any serious cuts in either defense or entitlement programs. The debt to GDP ratio just recently rose above the 100% level, and absent a miraculous end to endless red ink after 2012, seems like it will only be accelerating higher.
Now is the time for bold action, not timid minor modifications to business as usual.