the Federal Budget To Prevent U.S. Bankruptcy, Part VIII:
Cutting Energy and Commerce
Jim Grichar (aka Exx-Gman)
by Jim Grichar
note: I ask readers for their indulgence because of my extensive
use of the b-lingo bureaucrat-lingo and the detail I used in
presenting my arguments. I do this to reduce bureaucratic counter-arguments
which I expect to receive to the absurdity that they invariably
those who did not read Parts IVII of this series, total actual
cuts in proposed spending (what I call the "Cut-o-meter")
now amount to $370 billion. Those cuts came from Defense, NASA,
HUD, the Education Department, the Agriculture Department, Transportation
Department, Interior, and other agencies.
proposed fiscal year (fy) 2005 outlays for the Energy and Commerce
Departments are $22.496 billion and $6.147 billion, respectively.
Both have numerous programs which are, to use a polite term, useless,
and they can and should be cut back substantially.
Commerce Department goes back to the 1920's, a time when Herbert
Hoover was Commerce Secretary. Established to promote business,
even though it is not needed, this department is today generally
a dumping ground for political appointees, usually the type that
are fund-raisers for presidential campaigns.
Commerce is primarily a pork barrel department, providing little
that is really needed by the taxpayer. It includes such organizations
as the Economic Development Administration, the Census Bureau, the
International Trade Administration, the National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration (does it create our air and water?),
the Patent and Trademark Office (which is largely self-funding),
and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST
formerly the National Bureau of Standards). Over the years, many
of these have morphed, taking on a role of ladling out the pork
to various constituencies.
Economic Development Administration (EDA), unlike some of the others,
has always been about doling out the pork to favored politicos.
It funded heavy amounts of economic aid to depressed areas, like
Appalachia, during Lyndon Johnsonís "Great Society." Well,
in the words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise!" It did
Reagan actually tried to abolish this sinkhole for taxpayers' money,
and he appointed someone who really wanted to deep-six the outfit.
The man was Orson Swindle, a hard-nosed Marine pilot who had been
a POW in Vietnam. Heck, if Charlie couldnít finish off Orson, Reagan
figured that Orson was the right man to finish off the EDA. But
even a man of Swindleís bluntness and honesty could not persuade
the Congress into abolishing EDA. Late in the Reagan Administration
I had the privilege of meeting him at an interagency meeting, and
he stated that he had failed in his goal of getting rid of it. Well,
EDA spends $0.394 billion per year, and itís on our chopping block.
Hereís to you, Orson!
reducing the nearly $0.9 billion budget of the Census Bureau and
the Bureau of Economic Analysis (which estimates gross domestic
product and other macro-economic numbers) is highly unlikely in
the short run, in the longer term BEA could be privatized (just
as its former function of estimating the leading economic indicators
was privatized and given to the Conference Board, a private non-profit
business study group) and the Census Bureau could be restricted
to its one constitutionally-mandated function, counting (and nothing
else) the number of people in the nation and in each state so as
to properly apportion the 435 congressional seats. Census itself
is seeking a bit over $0.8 billion for fy 2005, of which $0.435
billion is supposed to be in preparation for the 2010 census. Scale
the whole Census Bureau budget back to about $100 million per year,
and they could easily conduct the decennial census. Total savings
here would be $0.8 billion per year but will not be counted in the
Cut-o-meter because I do not think they could be made within the
next three years.
International Trade Administration (ITA) promotes U.S. exports and
conducts investigations into foreign "dumping" of products
on the U.S. market, of producers selling in the U.S. below their
home market price. There are other outfits to do this, namely the
International Trade Commission (ITC), a creature of Congress, and
whatever your beliefs on the need for such investigations, the ITC
can take care of whatever needs to be done. They have a more honest
staff of professional economists than the mercantilists at ITA.
ITA is asking for $0.384 billion in fy 2005. All of its goes onto
our chopping block and will help bump up the Cut-o-meter.
dogs at Commerce that will be included on the chopping block are
the Bureau of Industry and Security ($79 million it regulates
exports of sensitive dual use (meaning civilian items having defense
uses) technology let DOD do that under its existing budget); the
Minority Business Development Administration ($30 million for the
politically favored), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
Administration ($1.742 billion for ocean research, for the U.S.
Weather Service, etc.), and the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST $0.69 billion, for setting standards of measurement
and too many useless things that have been added on).
NIST would have some remaining functions those legitimately related
to the role given in the Constitution that could be funded for
$150 million per year. The Patent and Trademark Office might be
another outfit difficult to abolish in the short run; it takes up
about $25 million of taxpayer funds but collects fees of approximately
$1.3 billion. But cut the $25 million from the Patent Office and
make it totally dependent upon the fees it receives.
other function, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration,
might be difficult to cut in the short term as one of its functions
is negotiating with foreign governments over rights to the use of
the radio and television spectrum. Budget that at $25 million and
save over $50 million.
savings from getting rid of most of the Commerce Department would
be about $5.9 billion. Add that to the Cut-o-meter.
DOE a Producer of Energy?
you cannot answer that question, then go no further. Of course the
Energy Department (DOE) does not produce any energy. But what it
does is consume taxpayer dollars. Most of DOEís programs ($16.9
billion out of a total proposed fy 2005 budget of nearly $22.5 billion)
are for nuclear weapons for the Defense Department. That leaves
$5.6 billion for civilian energy programs, and of that, $1.4 billion
covers civilian nuclear power-related activities. In the near term,
it might be impossible to cut the civilian nuclear program. But
the remaining $4.2 billion should all be cut.
Reagan reportedly wanted to abolish much of the Energy Department
but Congressional opposition prevented him from even attempting
to cut it out. Well, letís give it a try!
the civilian programs in the Energy Department laboratories, saving
$3.438 billion. Most of these laboratories design and build nuclear
weapons. Let them be merged into the Defense Department. That way,
the civilian programs at the laboratories can be ended.
hopes to spend additional money nearly $0.78 billion in fy
2005 on energy supply studies (renewable energy sources like
solar power and wind power). It also wants to spend $0.584 billion
on fossil energy research, another $0.128 million on clean coal
technology (to help keep eastern coal miners in their jobs as eastern
coal is high in sulphur, a pollutant), and $84 million on the Energy
Information Administration (EIA which gathers and publishes
energy data). DOE also runs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(FERC it takes in fees from those it regulates) and manages
the various power-marketing associations that sell electricity produced
by government-owned hydroelectric power dams.
of these could be abolished, with such outfits like the EIA being
privatized. FERC should be abolished, particularly because it no
longer regulates power rates. It obviously did not help the California
electric power crisis of 2001, so why keep it around?
from cutting out most DOE programs would be $4.2 billion annually.
The remaining nuclear power programs would be run by the government
until enough political pressure could be built to privatize them.
the Cut-o-meter Total is .... $380 billion
of $5.9 billion from the Commerce budget and $4.2 billion by abolishing
the Energy Department bump up the Cut-o-meter to $380 billion.
readers think there is nothing else to cut, let me assure them that
some really large programs will appear on the chopping block in
Grichar (aka Exx-Gman) [send
him mail], formerly an economist with the federal government,
writes to "un-spin" the federal government's attempt to con the
teaches economics part-time at a community college and provides
economic consulting services to the private sector.
© 2004 LewRockwell.com