As Congress and President Trump have worked to roll back several government expansions of the Obama Administration using legislative procedure and executive order, the new Administration’s first budget provides a roadmap for even greater “deconstruction of the administrative state.” In stark contrast to the last administration, the new budget takes on some of Washington’s most sacred cows and reduces total discretionary spending by $2.7 billion compared to spending enacted under President Obama last year. Trump’s plan would slash $54 billion from the federal government’s bloated regulatory agencies by reducing unnecessary staff and ending some of the worst taxpayer-funded programs like the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, the Transportation Security Administration’s Behavior Detection Officer Program, and the Department of State’s Global Climate Change Initiative.
Overreaching federal regulators must be held to account for their economic malpractice. While the government-knows-best budgets of the Obama Administration funded a takeover of private retirement savings, prohibitions on American workers choosing flexible job schedules, and attempts to kill the sharing economy, this budget scales back the job-killing Department of Labor by $2.5 billion. Trump’s budget also cuts $1.7 billion from the Department of Energy, which in little more than a decade has transitioned from its primary functions of researching and securing America’s energy resources to issuing dozens of anti-consumer regulations that increase prices on household necessities by more than $7.3 billion per year. An additional $250 million in savings comes from an agency within the Department of Commerce that has nothing better to do than mandate government agents be taken on all private fishing trips. The Department of Transportation’s $175 million per year “planes to nowhere” program is primed for elimination, as are $1.1 billion in Department of Housing and Urban Development real estate subsidies that contributed to the housing bubble a decade ago.
Lesser known (but no less dangerous) federal agencies across the government have also established long records of economically damaging and arbitrarily restrictive meddling in American life. Trump’s federal spending proposal would strip $1 billion in appropriated funds from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which could end the Obama-era nannying that stunted consumer choice over false health claims and limited smokers’ options for quitting amid calls for “social justice.” Elimination of export subsidy programs (similar to infamous corporate welfare enabler Export-Import Bank) at the International Trade Administration and $60 million in uncompetitive grants from the Bureau of International Labor Affairs will take power from the politically connected few and allow free enterprise to flourish.
Last, but far from least, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – which, under President Obama, destroyed jobs and grew to unprecedented size and scope – would finally be put in check under the Trump Administration budget. While the Trump Administration has taken quick action to undo several EPA regulations, the proposed budget cut of 32 percent would further curb the rogue agency that levies multi-million dollar fines on private ponds, threatens to fine dozens of state parks, and unconstitutionally raises consumer energy prices by $73 billion per year. After filling out 188 million hours worth of paperwork from this agency alone each year, Americans are more than ready for some relief from EPA busibodies.
Targeting over-inflated budgets and overreaching bureaucracy of these federal agencies is a necessary part of any serious plan to right-size and modernize government. These proposals in President Trump’s first budget will not only reduce wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, but also prevent Washington bureaucrats from creating more unnecessary and economically damaging regulation. The vision for economic prosperity described in this proposal illustrates a major departure from Washington’s status quo and could be the first step towards putting America back on a fiscally sustainable path.