If It Isn't in the Constitution, Cut It

“If the federal government does it, and it isn’t in the Constitution, it should be cut, eliminated, privatized or divulged to the states.”

That basically sums up the new book published by the Cato Institute titled, “Downsizing the Federal Government,” according to Stuart Butler, vice president of domestic and economic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation.

Written by Cato Institute Director of Tax Policy Chris Edwards, the book lists more than 100 programs the federal government should eliminate, turn over to states or modify. Edwards details the choices that need to be made to shrink government down, and explains the implications of these choices, or lack thereof, Butler said.

“Politicians will read this book and flinch,” he said.

In the fifth chapter of the book, Edwards lists key failings of the federal government under five separate categories—fraud and abuse, duplicative program, obsolete programs, mismanaged programs and ineffective programs. For example, he said federal housing and welfare programs are notoriously known for their fraudulent use of government funds. He said FEMA is another frequent fund abuser. And, according to Edwards, NASA should be classified as “obsolete.”

“We can’t afford it,” said Edwards, pointing out that the private sector is exploring space travel of its own.

Federal spending is out of control because Congress has no incentive to do things carefully, he said. To them, money is no object—especially when it comes to pleasing constituents.

“Costs are benefits to policy makers,” Edwards said.

He said although most of what the book discusses is depressing, there is hope for America’s future economic status. The public shows increasing support for spending cuts and is insisting leaders step up and do something to reverse the budget deficit.

Edwards said spending cuts and program reductions will dominate future elections because “spending restraint is good politics.”

The nearly 200-page book presents a “radical plan” meant to be a guide for taxpayers and voters, he said.