Government typically expands, rather than shrinking. It is a somewhat rational position taken by bureaucrats to up their budgetary demands whenever they can, to protect against inflation, unforeseen circumstances, and of course because they love big government.
Imagine my surprise to hear Ambassador Richard Grenell – Trump’s man in Berlin – discussing the notion of filing a zero increase budget yesterday.
Amb. Grenell, speaking to Human Events, noted the importance of the Trump/Pompeo expectations of government having a smaller footprint, and what he called a “frugal and efficient” approach to U.S. diplomacy.
Typically, embassies put in for bigger budgets each year. But Grenell and his staff have already managed to not spend about $8 million of their $130m budget for 2018, and intend to keep the trend going.
The process itself, say insiders, is a big State Department-linked mess wherein bureaucrats typically just have to guess and bloat budgets for the next three years in a “Mission Resource Request”.
“The way it has always been done,” is a common refrain around the topic.
“We have to be smart because we have a job to do, and we want to make sure that the job gets done with the responsibilities that we’ve been given… we’re not going to be reckless,” said Grenell in a call from Berlin on Thursday.
“We have to be smart because we have a job to do, and we want to make sure that the job gets done with the responsibilities that we’ve been given… we’re not going to be reckless,” –– Amb. Richard Grenell
His move has been warmly welcomed by the Senator for Kentucky, Rand Paul, who spoke with Human Events about the initiative to save U.S. tax payer dollars.
“I would give compliments were compliments were due,” said Sen. Paul.
“Anybody that is working in government that says they can hold the line on their budget deserves to be complimented”.
Asked by Human Events whether this could signal real terms cuts in future, both men demurred, but with a wink and nudge about the current plan being a good starting point.
“Holding the line is pretty significant,” noted Sen. Paul, calling Grenell’s move a “big step in the right direction”.
And it is.
The battle for foreign policy control in Washington, D.C., especially within the State Department, is heating up again.
Grenell’s move is sure to confound State apparatchiks only used to rubber stamping bigger budgetary requests.
And perhaps it’ll send a signal to other government departments: the federal government doesn’t always have to grow. In fact, it probably should always be looking to shrink.