Tag Archives: federal agencies

I Wonder Why We Have These Agencies and Programs?

Or, more accurately, why we had them.

A few days ago, The Hill came out with a list of 66 agencies that the tax “reform” bill simply eliminates. They include everything from Agriculture’s Economic Development agencies to the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grants and Education to the Education Department’s Grants for Comprehensive Literacy Development  and Effective Instruction.

At a time when our infrastructure is crumbling around us, the bill eliminates the Transportation Department’s National Infrastructure Investments (TIGER).

The list includes many other programs that would seem important, as well as a number of initiatives with puzzling names and obscure purposes.

I would be the last person to argue against pruning the mystifying thicket of federal programs and agencies. I’m sure many of them have outlived whatever usefulness they may have once had–and it wouldn’t shock me to discover that some of them didn’t ever have much justification for their existence. That said, the process through which they are being terminated is simply indefensible.

There has not been a single hearing held to determine the continued utility of any of these agencies. To the best of my knowledge, no notices were sent out to affected constituencies, no publication in the Federal Register invited public comment. Like the rest of this monstrous bill, these decisions were made hastily, in back rooms to which neither Democrats nor more moderate Republicans were invited.

This is not the way a democratic system works. In a representative government that honors due process and the rule of law, how decisions are made is ultimately more important than the substance of the decisions themselves.

The decision to terminate a program or agency should be made in daylight, with people familiar with the purposes and operation; those making the determination should hear from critics and defenders of the program, and from proponents and opponents of its termination. There should be some version of a cost/benefit analysis upon which a final decision is made.

These 66 programs were created for a reason. There should be a principled reason for their discontinuance.

Right now, America is being ruled–not governed, but ruled–by an illegitimate cabal empowered by vote suppression and gerrymandering and answerable not to the citizens who (theoretically) elected them, but to their donors and to a much lesser extent, their rabid and uneducated base.