It’s time we invoke a new rule when discussing the federal budget: don’t focus on spending cuts; focus on limiting the size of government. All too often we get caught up in dollar figures of various government programs and agencies, instead of focusing on their imperative to exist in the first place.
The first step in approaching a spending bill is to determine if the given venture is constitutionally sound. If the answer is no, there’s nothing more to debate. The second step is to determine if that venture, which is constitutionally sound, is helpful or harmful. Needless to say, if it is harmful to the public then it should be scuttled. Finally, once the constitutional rationale and the imperative for the venture are established, we can discuss the funding level of that venture.
The case in point is the Energy-Water appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Energy and parts of the Department of Interior. There is no reason for the DOE to exist. Period. The nuclear program could easily be transferred to another part of the federal government, while we eliminate all of the wasteful programs that have not only failed to increase our energy supply, but encumbered its growth over the past few decades. Now that Republicans have focused so much attention on merely trimming the DOE budget, it turns out that they failed to cut anything!
CQ reports that the Energy-Water bill passed out of the Energy-Water Appropriations subcommittee yesterday by voice vote actually appropriates $32.1 billion, an $88 million increase above fiscal 2012 levels. But here is the most egregious part of the bill:
Frelinghuysen [the subcommittee chairman] said the legislation would provide $1 billion to “strengthen” Energy Department programs focused on determining the causes and impacts of high gas prices in the future, a $36 million boost from current levels. It also would provide $554 million for fossil energy research and development, including a new $25 million shale oil program “to both increase the efficiency and improve the impacts of shale oil recovery,” he said.
So we are giving the DOE $1 billion to focus on determining the causes of high gas prices. Why don’t they look in the mirror! We know why gas prices are high. The American and global economies run on energy, and with demand increasing, we need to increase our supply. The DOE and other branches of government have promoted green energy and have hindered the private sector from developing our resources. That’s why gas prices are high. We don’t need to spend $1 billion to study the issue.
In addition, why should we fund fossil fuel research programs? We should oppose government promotion of fossil fuels just like we oppose their peddling of green energy. Let the private sector handle the R&D. This is why we should abolish the DOE. We don’t need more regulations on energy development, nor do we need any help or subsidies from them either. Of course, the bill contains $1.5 billion for “energy efficiency and renewable energy programs” as well.
With members like this on the appropriations committee, we will never reduce the size of government – even to pre-Obama levels. Another disconcerting problem that we will continue to focus on is the fact that many of these guys come from red districts. Here is the roster for that subcommittee along with their scores from Heritage Action and the PVI of their districts:
Rodney Frelinghuysen – Chairman (NJ-5 R+7) – 46
Jerry Lewis – (CA-41 R+10) -56
Mike Simpson (ID-2 R+17) – 53
Denny Rehberg (MT-At Large R+7) – 61
Rodney Alexander (LA-5 R+14) – 52
Steve Womack (AR-3 R+16) – 58
Alan Nunnelee (MS-1 R+14) – 73
If we continue to elect members from conservative districts who underperform so dramatically, and place them on the appropriations committee, we will never ever limit the size of government.
Amazingly, speaking in reference to the draft legislation, Rep. Frelinghuysen said that “some of us believe it is time to pull the government back from such a strong involvement in the private sector.”
Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.