Today is the last day for the public to submit ideas for the reorganization of the executive branch that the President announced in his Executive Order on a comprehensive plan for that purpose. If you have any ideas, go ahead and submit them. Here are three things that the Competitive Enterprise Institute is recommending:
- First, the President should build on his executive order on regulation and put an end to government by “regulatory dark matter.” While this may not seem like a restructuring proposal at first blush, it goes to the heart of how government has grown uncontrollably in this country. Each Department has acres of office space devoted to housing lawyers and other bureaucrats who put out guidance documents, interpretations, and circulars that all effectively have the force of law despite never being explicitly authorized through Congress or even going through the notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. The President should instruct his Cabinet secretaries to forego the use of such documents where possible, and make plans for downsizing of Departments accordingly. Where ”dark matter” is deemed necessary it should be subject to OMB review, be quantified and reported, and subject to other procedures described here by my colleague Wayne Crews.
- Secondly, the President should work with colleagues to abolish at least one entire cabinet-level Department. I suggest the Department of Commerce as the most otiose Department at such level. The methods used were well established by Margaret Thatcher and her successor John Major in the UK in the 1980s and early 1990s. A combination of closing down wasteful bureaucracies like the Economic Development Administration, privatization of useful services that are not necessary government functions, which applies to much of the activities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the spinning off to other agencies of necessary function (such as the Department’s few trade responsibilities, which could go to USTR) will reveal that there isn’t much substance to a Department that is a hodge-podge of responsibilities that could be done away with at no recognizable cost to the public good.
- Finally, the President should assert his constitutional responsibility and take control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He should fire Richard Cordray as Director and replace him with someone who will recognize the harm the CFPB has been doing to middle class consumers and to financial opportunity. He should then work with Congress to abolish or restructure the Bureau.
There are many other things the president should do, some of which require congressional approval, such as reining back the National Labor Relations Board and sorting out the mess that calls itself the Environmental Protection Agency, but these three priorities would do much to signal that the swamp is actually being drained.