Budget

Rep: Paul Broun: Paul Ryan's Budget Doesn't Cut Enough — Let's Get Rid of the Energy and Education Departments

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Courtesy Rep. Paul Broun/House.gov

When Rep. Paul Ryan released his latest budget proposal, he predicted that critics would label it an austerity budget—despite the fact that his budget merely slows the annual rate of federal spending growth from 5 percent to 3.4 percent. And of course he was right, and critics have gone after his budget for cutting spending even though it doesn't actually cut spending at all. 

So you can expect an even stronger reaction when those same folks see what Ryan's colleague Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) has to say about Ryan's budget plan in The New York Times today. The short version? Broun says he can't support it—because it doesn't cut spending nearly enough. 

Supporters of the "Path to Prosperity," including many of my fellow Republicans, say that we have to stop spending money we don't have, an idea I promote every chance I get. But under the proposal by Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, the federal government would continue to spend more than it will this year.

Spending would grow by an average of 3.4 percent annually, only slightly less than the rate under President Obama's plan, which is 5 percent a year. After 10 years — Mr. Ryan's target for eliminating the deficit — the "Path to Prosperity" will have spent $41 trillion, when the president's plan would allow spending of $46 trillion. My party's de facto position has become "we're increasing spending, but not as much as the other guy." That's not good enough.

Just reducing growth in spending does almost nothing. We have to dig deeper and make profound cuts now. We cannot continue to assume that future Congresses will do our dirty work for us.

We ought to get rid of certain federal departments and agencies, stopping only to shift the role of governing back to the states, where it belongs. The Departments of Education and Energy, for example, are two bloated bureaucracies that we don't need; their core functions would be absorbed by the states through block grants, saving taxpayers at least $500 billion over the next decade.

Note that Broun isn't proposing to eliminate every single function of the two agencies: Instead, he's proposing to let states manage energy and education regulation using block grants provided by the federal government. 

If you want an idea of what these sorts of federal agencies do (and spend), you can check out the Department of Energy's FY2013 budget request. The highlight document's introduction points to President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address, which, it reminds us, "called on us to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world as the United States faces 'our generation's Sputnik moment.'" The price tag of continuing to shoot for that Sputnik moment? About $27 billion, up 3.2 percent from the previous year. 

And here's the Education Department's budget page, which notes that "it is important to point out that education in America is primarily a State and local responsibility, and ED's budget is only a small part of both total national education spending and the overall Federal budget." The Education Department's current annual budget is just over $68 billion.

Read Nick Gillespie on why Ryan's budget doesn't go far enough, and a whole host of Reason contributors on how to slash government spending by eliminating entire programs and departments

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  1. Nope. The only thing in the budget that can be possibly cut is the White House Easter egg hunt.

    1. They should institute a bank tax. For the children.

  2. What about all the jobs and the multiplier effect? I mean, it’s magic! Creating value out of thin air! Keynes didn’t discover alchemy, but he came damn close! Something for nothing! There is a such a thing as a free lunch!

  3. Looks like everyone is hopping on the Randwagon now.

    1. I think I just finally learned how to pray…
      Nope, still a false alarm.

  4. But think of the downside if we get rid of the Education Department. Bands of unemployed Education Majors wandering the country. It will be like a Zombie Apocalypse!

    1. Shambling, murderous, half-rotted corpses make better employees than your average Ed. Major.

      1. Sad but true. I’ve got a friend who’s a staunch libertarian, but ever since he’s been studying for a teaching degree he’s been talking about wealth inequality and nationwide high speed rail projects.

        The only logical explanation is that he’s been infected with “progressive.”

        1. The only way to deal with infected is a bullet to the brain, which no longer functions anyway.

    2. Do you really think eliminating the Education department will result in reduced spending on education? That money will just be shifted back to state level spending. The Ed. Majors will be fine. They can always fall back on Starbucks anyway…

      1. Would a service oriented, gun friendly business like Starbucks take them?

  5. And on the subject of block grants, other than being able to attach conditions on how the money is to be spent, what is gained by taking money from the people of the state, spending some of it on administration, then giving it to the state government? Why not just let the states do it themselves without the added federal administrative cost? I don’t think they could find a more wasteful way of doing things if they tried. Idiots.

    1. Yeah, I don’t really see the point (other than to keep some control) there. If it’s coming back to the states anyway, cut federal taxes and let the states take it from there.

    2. Now that is just crazy talk.

      Next you will be questioning why send taxpayer money to the State so that turn around and sent to the school district.

      Or why take money from the taxpayers to fund things that the taxpayer can pay for themselves such as birth control or ten dollar cell phones.

      1. Next you will be questioning why send taxpayer money to the State so that turn around and sent to the school district.

        Well, in Texas, that would arguably be because of the state constitution.

    3. Why not just let the states do it themselves without the added federal administrative cost?

      Do you think that would really work? Letting each individual state have control over their schools. I shudder at the thought.

      1. Yeah. I know. It would be like going back to thirty or forty years ago when the schools did a better job for less money per student. I too shudder at the thought.

    4. What and have the fucking feds loose their ability to blackmail the states into submission?

  6. Is that Jack Swagger standing behind him with the We The People sign?

  7. I’m somewhat disappointed in the Congressman from Georgia’s proposal.
    The only necessary function of the Department of Energy is regulating the handling and transfer of certain kinds of nuclear material. I believe the defense department did this before the creation of the DoE.

  8. A simple budget proposal… Cut the federal budget across the board by half in this budget. Then next year, the other half. With baseline budgeting that will leave only one more half!

    1. Until DC is in the same condition as Detroit, the cutting isn’t done.

  9. This isn’t because he wants small government.

    Get back to me when he wants to eliminate *functions* of government. I’m waiting for one, just ONE, candidate who is against the drug war and the SEC and the FAA, TSA, BATF, Ag dept and public schools entirely

  10. This isn’t because he wants small government.

    Get back to me when he wants to eliminate *functions* of government. I’m waiting for one, just ONE, candidate who is against the drug war and the SEC and the FAA, TSA, BATF, Ag dept and public schools entirely

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