The Corner

Today’s Questions for the President

You are scheduled to meet with members of Congress today to promote your congressional “to-do list” consisting of yet another five federal programs.

In your inaugural address you said, “The question we ask is not whether government is too big or too small, but whether it works. . . . Where the answer is no, programs will end.”

What, if any, federal programs have you ended during your administration? Why did you end them?

How do you define “works?” For example, the Department of Education was created in 1980 for the express purpose of improving U.S. education. Since then, overall per pupil K–12 spending has increased (in constant dollars) from approximately $6,000 per year to $12,500 per year. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent by the department since 1980, yet scores for 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — often referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card” — have remained unchanged and U.S. student performance relative to students in other countries has dropped.

Similarly, the Energy Department was created in 1977 when the U.S. imported 35 percent of its oil. The department’s express purpose was to make the U.S. energy independent. Since its creation, the department has spent hundreds of billions of dollars and has 109,000 employees and contractors. We now import approximately 60 percent of our oil.

Do you maintain that the Department of Education works? What about the Energy Department? If so, by what criteria would you determine that a federal program, agency, or department isn’t working?


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