May 8, 2009

Does Duncan need a program-closing commission?

The recommended chopping of a dozen programs and half a billion dollars from the Obama recommended budget, and the expected political defense of those programs, reminds me of the various efforts to eliminate programs in the Pentagon that have developed political roots. A few weeks ago, I was wondering if the Pentagon needed a weapons-program-closing commission so that weapons programs such as the F-22 could be killed. But I suspect that the F-22, most of the dozen education programs Obama is trying to kill (several of which were also targeted by Bush), and some other programs that make me wince will instead survive because they will have fierce defenders on Capitol Hill who have a greater reason to fight for their continuation than other Congresscritters will have to kill them. And the outcomes will have little to do with intrinsic merit.

What is needed is the domestic-policy equivalent of the old base-closing commission: something that develops a list of programs in the discretionary domestic budget that should be closed, a list that is submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no or few amendments allowed. There are multiple ways of doing this in a way that will allow ineffective programs to close, but the dangers of ineffective programs go beyond the money wasted to the general feeling that the federal government wastes money. There is a political cost in the long run to rampant corruption or political protection of ineffective programs.

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Tags: Arne Duncan, budget
Posted in Education policy on May 8, 2009 5:29 PM |