A reader writes:
I'm not trying to dismiss a relatively decent idea out of hand, but Kansas is facing a huge budget hole that the outgoing governor is going to the mat to try to patch. All we get out of the Brownback office is a legislative gimmick and a lack of any details on how the Senator might actually, you know, govern. Or to quote the headline in the local paper here in Lawrence, Kansas: "Brownback proposes Office of Repealer, but doesn’t have specifics on what he’d like repealed."
The Office of the Repealer could certainly do some good. But I beg to differ with Balko's belief that: "the media venerates politicians who propose new government programs as bold and visionary, while anyone daring to suggest perhaps there might be cause to eliminate an agency or two is depicted as some fringe draconian nut."
Just look at the more liberal of the two major parties: the most successful Democratic politician of the last 20 years, Bill Clinton, famously declared that "the era of big government is over" and made high-profile cuts to welfare and excessive paperwork. Obama campaigned on promises to cut wasteful spending, use pay-as-you-go, and even to have a net spending cut. As President, he's made heavy cuts to NASA, and his SecDef is serious about cutting wasteful military spending. Recently Obama proposed a Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act, and Russ Feingold introduced a version of that bill into Congress last week.
I'm not saying that the federal budget and deficits are not growing, or that Obama and other Democrats are reducing the size of government. But it's a mistake to say that massive spending increases are good politics, or that cutting waste is taboo. Almost everyone pays lip service to these goals, and most of our massive spending programs are things that supporters of those programs see as true necessities (see Obamacare, given the current health insurance situation; or the War on Terror).
Say what you will about Texas, but they already have this. Every Texas agency is under review every 12 years, on a rotating cycle, by the "Sunset Commission," which then makes a recommendation to the legislature for action. Agencies often get combined or outright removed. Sure, it's a politicized process, but it's a process that does keep folks accountable.
What will be responsible for repealing the office of the repealer?