Donald Trump is slowly announcing nominations for his cabinet. He just announced his nominee for Education Secretary (Betsy DeVos) and Ambassador to the United Nations (Nikki Haley). As of this writing, it is also expected that Ben Carson will accept the nomination for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
I don’t want to discuss the individuals who are being announced or considered here though. In general, I think it is better when you haven’t heard the person’s name before, because then there is a chance that the person is not too embedded in the establishment.
But from a libertarian perspective, it will be hard to get too excited over any of Trump’s picks, unless he really surprises us with a libertarian, or at least someone with heavy libertarian leanings.
Assuming this doesn’t happen, and even if it does, there is something else that would get me excited over a cabinet announcement. This announcement would have nothing to do with any particular individual.
With the HUD Secretary and Education Secretary positions in the news, this provides a great example of why things are not headed in the right direction on the domestic front.
These departments should not exist. They are unconstitutional. These functions are not listed in Article I, Section 8, which spells out the enumerated powers for Congress. The federal government should not be involved in developing housing or urban environments. The federal government should not be involved in educating children or anyone else.
From a libertarian perspective, these departments should be abolished immediately. I understand that is highly unlikely right now and is probably not politically feasible.
However, aside from the existence of the Federal Reserve, there are two main things that are severely hampering the economy: regulations and total government spending.
I know many will point to taxation, but the taxation goes hand-in-hand with government spending. You can only have real tax cuts when government spending is reduced.
If Donald Trump really wants to make America great again, which would presumably include the health of the American economy, then many of these major agencies and departments need to see significant budget cuts.
So here is an announcement that would get me excited.
When Trump makes an announcement for a major nomination, he should say that he met with various candidates for the position and that he required the candidates to pledge to accept a 10% reduction in their total budget for their department for each year that they are there. If the candidate does not accept this budget cut or does not promise not to fight the administration on these future cuts, then the candidate is automatically eliminated from contention.
Actually, Trump could have made this announcement prior to any of his nomination announcements. He could have announced right away that if you are not willing to accept a 10% per year budget cut, that you need not apply.
This is what would get me excited.
The alphabet agencies and various departments strangle us with regulations and make life more expensive. With reduced budgets, hopefully they would have fewer resources for enforcement. And with the reduced government spending, it would reduce the misallocation of resources and drive more capital into wealth generating activities.
Maybe Trump could make a few exceptions for certain agencies or departments for political purposes. But most everything really should be fair game. The Department of Education and HUD should be easy ones to start with.
Now don’t get me wrong. It wouldn’t be easy politically. But if anyone knows how to take getting beat up by the media, it is Trump. That is why voters put him there. They expect him to fight. Unfortunately, I am afraid they may be disappointed.
Of course, none of this is likely to happen. If the federal budget goes down at all, it would be reason to celebrate.
Spending cuts were barely ever discussed during the campaigns and various debates. It came up briefly in a couple of the Republican debates. There is almost no will to cut spending. The voters complain about the debt, but they don’t want the spending cuts.
In order to significantly improve the economy, budgets have to be cut. Unfortunately, because there is little political will anywhere to do this, it will be forced on us through the laws of economics. At some point, it just won’t be possible to keep running massive deficits and continually increasing spending.