Skip to comments.The Ron Paul plan: Lots of zeros, little explanation
Posted on 10/20/2011 10:03:36 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
After Herman Cain began making a big splash with his 9-9-9 plan, boldness seemed to be the recipe for this cycle’s presidential election. Ron Paul delivered his own bold plan this week to reform the federal budget and “Restore America,” as Paul titled his new plan. In my column for The Fiscal Times, I take a look at Paul’s blueprint and find some provocative and intriguing concepts — but very little explanation, and even less common sense.
Paul proposes to immediately zero out funding for five Cabinet-level agencies: Energy, Education, HUD, Interior, and Commerce. Conservatives have long wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, and as I note in my column, that should be fairly easy to do, as state and local resources already exist for education. The Department of Energy won’t be missed except by pork-barrel recipients, and even HUD’s responsibilities could probably move to the states, although with some transitional issues. But that’s not true of Interior and Commerce:
The Department of Interior manages vast amounts of public land, and whether one believes that the federal government should own as much acreage as it does, the need for proper stewardship at least in the short term cant be ignored. Even if we put every federal acre up for sale (Pauls plan includes $40 billion in revenue from land sales over four years), wed need to fund the management of the land until the sale could be made. Pauls proposal would leave no funds at all for these tasks, nor does he transfer the responsibility for land management to any other agency.
The promise to eliminate the Department of Commerce is even more mystifying. For one thing, the Constitution explicitly gives the federal government jurisdiction over interstate commerce, as well as requiring a decennial census to reapportion representation in the House a task assigned to Commerce. The department also produces data from and analysis of the national economy; analyzes weather and potential storm systems; and manages patents and trademarks another explicit federal function in the Constitution. Not only does Paul not explain what happens to these subsidiary responsibilities, he doesnt explain why he thinks the Department of Commerce is illegitimate in the first place.
In fact, there is almost no explanation for this plan whatsoever. Mitt Romney’s plan came with 160 pages of analysis and argument; it’s not exactly a gripping page-turner, but it does explain Romney’s reasoning and how he plans to implement his 59-point proposal. There is exactly one page of text in Paul’s plan, followed by several pages of spreadsheet tables — with their own curiosities. Among other examples in my column, Paul’s text never mentions that he plans to privatize the FAA:
He also redlines the Federal Aviation Administration with a note in his budget that says only, FAA Privatized. That would save nearly $10 billion a year but would instantly create massive chaos in air travel.
How exactly would Paul propose privatizing the air-traffic control system and managing the thousands of commercial flights in the air at any one time? What kind of transition would it take for airlines to create their own systems, and how much would it end up costing travelers as the carriers duplicate efforts and create communication barriers in traffic handling? Pauls plan not only doesnt explain that process or his end goals, but the thin amount of explanatory text never addresses the FAA conversion at all, nor does it explain Pauls plan to defund TSA and require carriers to provide their own security.
Paul doesn’t even bother to supply transitional funding for these agencies or any of their subsidiary responsibilities. They just disappear. It’s simply not a serious plan at all. Not only does it have no chance of passing any Congress in its current form, there isn’t enough intellectual support for any of its components to pass, either. The whole plan feels like something cooked up over a dinner with a few budget reports and a red pen, in a desperate attempt to stay relevant in this presidential contest. It’s as unserious as an Occupy Wall Street protest.
Predictably, the comments at The Fiscal Times have defended Paul as at least thinking out of the box and being creative, but that’s not true. There is precious little thinking involved in this document. Had Paul been truly creative, he would have worked through the obvious implications of his cuts and provided a rational path for their success. Instead, Paul simply proposes cuts on a spreadsheet and then washes his hands of the consequences. That’s vintage Paul, but it’s certainly not leadership.
“Lots of zeros, little explanation “
“Paul proposes to immediately zero out funding for five Cabinet-level agencies: Energy, Education, HUD, Interior, and Commerce. Conservatives have long wanted to eliminate the Department of Education....”
No one, and I do mean NO ONE, is a bigger RuPaul critic than me. However, he’s 1000% correct on this. These departments need to go. He gets an “A”on his rhetoric on this issue.
However, RuPaul is not the man to do it. Remember, Ru is all talk and no action. Ru whines and cries about the size of government on TV, and then in 2009 he brings home all kinds of goodies to his district, outspending leftist giants Nazi Pelosi and Pete Starke Naked. (Apparently Ru thinks no one watches C-Span.)
Herman Cain would make these cuts.
Rick Santorum would make this cuts.
Michele Bachmann would make these cuts.
Newt Gingrich would make these cuts.
When push comes shove, I don’t think RuPaul would.
I'd say Paul and Bachmann would actually cut. They are the two candidates[Perry?, not sure] that I know of on stage who were against TARP.
Either way, the fact that this is brought up into the debate is good for everyone.
Maybe Paul’s plan will get the other candidates, primarily Romney and Cain to counter with their own plans for serious cuts. A good start would be a 20 percent across the board cut for all federal employees, with greater cuts for upper management, and then start dramatically cutting and eliminating agencies. When the unions complain, treat them like Reagan did.
wed need to fund the management of the land until the sale could be made.
Zero cost, and I’ll bet revenue goes WAY up because the manager’s goal will be profit, not CONTROL.
Off the top of my head:
Privatize, and do nothing more than needed for an apportionment headcount.
Patents and trademarks:
Already more than self-funding by user fees. Can run like USPS should, with a commission setting fees, and private companies paying private employees.
...data from and analysis of the national economy:
...analyzes weather and potential storm systems:
Maybe leave this federal, possibly under Defense.
The mere fact that Ron Paul is even talking about these Departments being cut is remarkable, and commendable.
Remarkable because the other candidates have not gone so far, and commendable because cuts such as these have been needed for many years, but nobody seems to have the guts to say it.
I say the details could all be worked out, and if it comes to that, I'm sure we'll have plenty of "bi-partisan help" to work out the details.
Meanwhile, the candidates who simply dance around the edges of Big Government and spout platitudes are not serious, and wouldn't be serious once elected.
private airline companies already have their own traffic control systems. Local airports should be in charge of their own controls, with appropriate fees charged. Problem solved.
This is one of the problems with our electoral process: if a candidate offers solutions, people pick it apart, criticize it unmercifully, and savage the candidate. That’s why we get a lot of generalities from the candidates at this stage: why would anyone want to put a bulls-eye on their back? Better to smile & beguile the folks.
“If you can’t blind ‘em will brilliance, baffle ‘em with bull****.”
Privatizing the FAA would not be that hard; nor that disruptive. It can be converted to a private company, as is, and working just as it is, with no change or interruption in HOW it does what it does.
The major immediate decisions are not "how to" operational decisions about the FAA's day-to-day operations and who does them and how they do them, or even why.
The FAA operations would not require interruptions simply because privatization took place; nor even because it was in the process of taking place.
The major immediate decisions concern a new board of directors, a possibly new set of officers, decisions about how revenue is raised, government-assisted decisions about who gets a stake in ownership of the FAA initially, decisions about a future IPO that might raise capital and reimburse the taxpayers for the gift of the infrastructure it was given; and decisions like that.
Meanwhile, the day-to-day operations need not be materially affected. There would not be chaos in the skies due to privatization. There might be chaos in Washington and among all the stakeholders who need the FAA's services, while all the "ownership", governance and revenue issues get resolved (though likely never to everyone's total satisfaction).
I agree. I wish this was asked as a debate question.