Fund it? Fix it

Feb 06 2015

The President released his budget this week only to see it almost universally rejected or ignored by Congress, the media, and the American people. His budget is a statement of this administration’s priorities and politics, both of which put Obama at odds with the country right now.

But it’s not necessarily because his budget spends almost $4 trillion, doesn’t balance, and hurts the middle class. It’s because the American people are tired of stale debates over how much government should or should not be cut, and much more interested in fixing a dysfunctional government that is badly in need of structural reform.  

Just spending more on a misguided program doesn’t get you any closer to a real solution than just spending less on it. If the program is dysfunctional—if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, and what it’s supposed to do is worth doing—the only real solution is to fix it. Fixing a leaky faucet is not an arbitrary “cut” in one’s water bill – it’s repairing a broken system so that it only costs what it must.

After all, the problem with Washington is not that the federal government is a bit profligate, but otherwise efficient and effective with our money. No, the problem is that it’s comprehensively wasteful, unfair, and dysfunctional. It is, in a great many areas of policy, trying to do the wrong things and doing them in the wrong ways.

The federal government has taken on too much and, therefore, does very little well. The Constitution spells out in some detail the various authorities of the federal government. If it focused solely on those things, not only would Washington be less intrusive and less costly, but also more effective and efficient. That is not just making government “smaller” – a conservative priority - but also better, the proper aim of any government reform.

So for the new Republican Congress, armed with the power of the purse, our mantra should be: Fund It? Fix It.

If there is a good reason for Congress to fund a program, that in and of itself is a good reason to continually improve it.