If We Can't Scrap It, Let's Put It in Charge of the Economy


Over at Foreign Policy, Daniel Rothkopf says Judd Gregg's vote to abolish the Commerce Department should count in favor of choosing him to run it. Rothkopf, who was a senior Commerce official in the mid-1990s, recalls coping with shutdowns prompted by the budget disputes between President Clinton and the Republican Congress:

We were asked to identify "essential personnel" who would be asked to come in to work in any case. That was tough enough. Harder still was recognizing after a while that you could probably shut the whole operation down and it would be six months before you got a letter of complaint from a constituent who noticed.  

Rothkopf favors scrapping the department and assigning its necessary functions, such as the Patent Office and the Census Bureau, to other agencies. But he says "monkeys will fly out of Judd Gregg's behind long before this happens." As a startling second-best option, he thinks this "bureaucratic hodge-podge held together by those old Washington stand-bys of inertia, habit, and the self-interests of Congressional appropriators" should be given "an expanded role," since "it's the only place with anything like the capability" to carry out the Obama administration's No. 1 job: "to rebuild our economy." That sounds to me like another argument for abolishing it.

NEXT: Oh the Hypocrisy of Canadian and EU Faux Freetraders!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Die, anonymous Ron Paul speech spammer. Just die.

  2. Census used to be part of the State Department. You know, back when people thought the size of the Cabinet was more or less fixed.

    And before a Crisis-Fad-du-Jour Czar become essential to national discourse.

  3. Commerce? What do we need that for? It’s mostly in a big-ass building, with long, long, long corridors that hurt your feet. That’s all I remember about Commerce during my stay in DC. As noted above, it could be gutted and devoured with little hurt, just moving a few small agencies of value elsewhere.

    If I ever became a libertarian president, #88 of my list of things to do would be to pare down the agencies:

    At the beginning of my first term, I will order the construction (after a fundraiser) of a small stadium on the Mall, which I will call. . .Thunderdome. Into Thunderdome, I will send the secretaries of every cabinet-level agency–excluding State, Defense, DOJ, and the Treasury–in pairs. Two go in, one comes out. Two go in, one comes out.

  4. That’s what Steve Rattner’s wife, the man likely to be nominated as Obama’s “Car Czar,” told the policeman who found her “stopped at the raised EZPass gate, failing to proceed through, with a line of vehicles honking” behind her Mercedes Benz. When the cop approached, Rattner’s wife “stared blankly…with glassy eyes and stated in sum and substance: Where do I go now?” Somehow the arrest, which happened on October 28 of last year, managed to stay out of the papers. The Daily News had the story up for a few hours, but then it disappeared, and the New York Post and New York Times never reported the story at all. Michael Wolff, who picks the story up here, writes:

    In other words, an incident that any other person seeking high office should expect to be covered wasn’t. At least not for very long.

    It is possible, of course, that the Daily News website has malfunctioned. And that the Times and the Post were asleep at the switch. And that the Rattners are the luckiest public couple in New York. Anything is possible.

    It seems Rattner’s is being considered for the wrong job. A guy who can get both the Times and the Post to disappear an ugly story ought to be running your communications shop.

  5. Come on, who can fault anyone for not wanting to mess with the Car Czar? I wouldn’t, that’s for sure. He might take my Honda away.

  6. ProL,

    Fun list! My favorite just might be:

    66. The Vice President and I will host a weekly TV show called Mystery Congressional Theater 2009, where we will review, rate, and mock major Congressional speeches and bills over the past week.

    As SugarFree and I pointed out the other day, occasional celebrity gossip sessions wouldn’t be amiss either.

    And, no mention of Lab Whore Day as a national holiday?

  7. Commerce has been on my list of departments to abolish for a long time. It has lots of company.

  8. It’s mostly in a big-ass building, with long, long, long corridors that hurt your feet. That’s all I remember about Commerce during my stay in DC.

    Apparently, the aquarium in the basement wasn’t particularly impressive. 😉

  9. The Census Bureau should be under the authority of the Censor. That, and removing from office any Senator he deems unfit.

  10. Economy Rescued!

    God Bless courageous Republicans Arlen Spector, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins!

  11. Dagny T.,

    One of my favorites, as well. In fact, I think that Reason should start doing it right now. Not with every waking minute of Congress, of course, but maybe special speeches and votes. Like the stimulus package, for instance.

    I came up with the list before we came up with Lab Whore Day. Which reminds me that we need to post something for this Mammorial Day. We missed it last year.


    Darned tootin’! All we have to do is amend the Constitution, and the Censor will take his rightful place as the Fourth Branch. And, if nothing else, Americans will gain great feelings of schadenfreude as the Censor ousts and ousts and ousts yet again.

  12. Libertarian dimwit:

    I have no doubt these three dimwits will go to the same dhimmierat heaven that Ted Kennedy will go to.

    Well I’m glad I don’t have to worry while the government has just condemned the country to a real depression. But I loved the 70s and Hussain has just brought back the Carter era.

    Die Fahnen hoch.

  13. A ‘dhimmierat’ serving up big helpings of pork.

  14. It’s actually funny to hear someone quote that They would see monkeys fly out of someones ass lol.

  15. Anyone else reading that as “Judge Dredd”?

  16. I thought the Supreme Court was in charge of (interstate) Commerce.

  17. Better bureaucrats through Obama, the fearless leader.

  18. Saying that we’ll see a government agency or cabinet post disbanded in our lifetime is like saying I can grow a potato plant out of my ass.


  19. Seems like Obama wants to shred the Constitution again.

    But again he is the annointed one whats a mere pfiffle like the Constitution.

  20. Whatever the Fearless Leader wants the Fearless Leader gets. Damn the Constitution its a mere shred of paper.

    What a miserable warmongering failure.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.