Small Business

Obama Wants to Merge Some Agencies, Steal Power from Congress

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There's been some anxious vomiting on the Internet recently about a speech last Friday, in which President Barack Obama announced his intention to seek the power from Congress to merge separate federal agencies.

[The government] has often grown more complicated and sometimes more confusing. I'll give you a few examples. There are five different entities dealing with housing. There more than a dozen dealing with food safety…as it turns out, the Interior Department is in charge of salmon in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in salt water.

(Watch the video of Obama's speech to small business owners.)

Despite mentioning the above redundancies, the initial proposal addressed only departments having to do with trade and commerce. Soon afterward Management and Budget Director for Management Jeff Zients gurgled hints about merging the food agencies as well. Obama acknowledged that Presidents Hoover through Reagan (PBUH) had this power as well and promised to "only use this authority for reforms that result in more efficiency, better service, and a leaner government," but something's still, well, fishy.

The trade and commerce agency merger isn't actually likely to reduce inefficiency, debt, or confusion. Some circus-types have even made crystal ball predictions about the administration's secret intention to dismantle the Small Business Administration (SBA) altogether and thereby destroy the economy, lead to the extinction of freshwater salmon, split the moon, and maybe even let the terrorists win. So why would Obama want to possess this terrible power? A handy rule of thumb: Any time a government official does something that appears to be totally asinine and unnecessary on the surface, there's probably a behind-the-scenes deal that explains the whole thing.

A clue lies in plans to move the head of the SBA to the Cabinet, where she'll be personally accountable to the president alone. According to the proposal, Congress will give an up-or-down vote on the mergers, but the power to actually do the merging will now be executive. If the executive gets this power back, it sets a precedent by which he or she could make more bids for yet more powers over yet more agencies.

Read more about the U.S. business environment, downsizing the government, and mergers.