Obama and Scaling Back the Federal Bureaucracy

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

President Obama and the Democrats may be setting the nation up to accomplish something conservatives have been advocating for decades, the scaling back of the federal bureaucracy, and on a scale more massive than conservatives may have even wished.  This is not, of course, Obama’s intention. Far from it.  Nor will it be for the reasons or in a fashion conservatives wanted.   But it may very well be the result of his heretofore unimaginable budget deficits and the looming short falls in Social Security and Medicare.

It is hard to believe that only a few short years ago democrats were railing about the deficit spending under George W Bush.  Personally, I and many other conservatives agreed with them, and excessive spending was a significant factor in the Republican’s loss of Congress in 2006.  But while we agreed that spending under Bush and the Republican Congress was excessive, it was still hard to take the Democrat’s complaints seriously. After all, many conservatives characterized the Republican spending as Republicans acting like Democrats.  I was firmly convinced that if the Democrats regained control, spending and therefore deficits would go up, not down.

Still in my wildest dreams, or nightmares,  I did not imagine the deficits would rise to the levels they are now.  I thought they might go up some, maybe 10% – 50%, but never did I imagine they would go up 3-4 times.  Last year’s budget deficit was 1.42 trillion, This year’s is projected to be 1.35 trillion.  That is $4,500 for every man woman and child in the country, and that is just one year.  That means in just the last two years the Federal government has saddled the average family of four with over $36,000 in debt.  

This just cannot go on.  Even if the President’s projections hold up, after 5 years the deficit will still be $480 billion, well above the norm that Democrats were railing against  just a few short years ago.  But some budget experts see Obama’s projections as wildly optimistic and “most budget experts see deficits nearing or exceeding $1 trillion each year over the next decade once tax cuts and other policies are factored in.”

The cost just to service this rapidly growing debt is likewise growing. Combine this with the fact that within a few years the surplus generated by Medicare and Social Security will change to a deficit, and the Federal Government will have to start redeeming all those IOUs it has been filing away and there is going to be a huge money crunch.

Future Presidents and Congresses will not really have a choice but to drastically scale back or even eliminate a whole range of federal programs.  Sure they can, and undoubtedly will, raise taxes, and a lot.  But taxes depress the economy and thus there is a limit to how much money can be raised.  

Programs such as the National Endowment for Arts and Public Broadcasting are sure to go.  There simply will not be enough money.  But those will be just some of the visible casualties.  There are hundreds and probably thousands of smaller programs buried in the budget that are also certain to go, scarified to feed the ever growing debt.  Even if the current deficit is finally brought under control, there will still be the ever increasing burden of Social Security and Medicare as it falls deeper and deeper into the red, and demands more and more IOUs be repaid. 

Eventually even departments will be drastically cut back and perhaps even eliminated.  First in line will be the Department of Education, which was only created in 1980. But other departments will take serious hits as well.  So will the states, as monies to the states are cut back as government continues to strain just to meet the demands of the debt,  Social Security and Medicare.

So the Democrats under Barack Obama may be setting up the country for the paradox of the both the largest increase in federal spending, and the greatest cutback in federal programs in our history.  Anyway you look at it, it will not be a pretty sight.

Jan 27th, 2010

One Comment to 'Obama and Scaling Back the Federal Bureaucracy'

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  1. White Flood said,

    Hi, great article. Well, the Obamacare bill passed. We still need to do plenty of research on the implications, but one thing we all know is that it will be expensive. As a small business owner, I’m concerned about the raise in taxes. I want to hire more people, but the bill makes that very hard for us small guys. Here’s my problem: If none of us are hiring, how unemployment go back down? Anyhow, nice site… I’m subscribed to your RSS feed now so I’ll check in more often!

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