More Problems With Ron Paul's Budget

Written by Eli Lehrer on Friday October 21, 2011

Kenneth Silber is right to criticize Ron Paul’s proposal to abolish five federal agencies. That said, the specific example he picks, weather satellites, is, to me, only modestly compelling. Private companies are already involved in both the satellite launch business and the weather prediction business. I have my doubts but maybe weather satellite privatization could work. The worst details of Paul’s plan are found elsewhere.

Three that stick out:

1. Despite Paul’s supposed strict adherence to the Constitution, outright abolition of the Department of Commerce would end both the Bureau of the Census and the Patent and Trademark Office even though the existence of both a census and a patent system is mandated by The Constitution’s plain language. How would Paul propose defending his decision to stop doing these things when people sued the federal government?

2. More than half of the Department of Energy budget is devoted to nuclear security and cleanup. Does Paul honestly believe that nuclear weapons security is a task best left to the private market?

3. The Department of the Interior maintains all national parks. If its budget were reduced to zero, right away, most of them would close. Does Paul want to sell Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, and the Washington Monument to the highest bidders?

The list could go on. Paul’s plan isn’t all bad–I personally think that the country would be better off if most of the agencies Paul targets had their budgets slashed. But his current plan simply doesn’t show any thought at all. It may make good politics but it’s terrible public policy.