Romney’s and Obama’s agency creation, elimination bluster


President Obama gives a statement about the federal government's response to superstorm Sandy. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

But his loss doesn’t mean some agencies won’t be targeted for extinction or consolidation no matter who wins next week.

President Obama last week resurfaced a proposal he made earlier this year to merge the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Agency and create a secretary of business.

(Note to File:Consider a Loop contest to come up a name less lame than that.)

The Wall Street Journal immediately blasted the notion, which has been kicking around for some time.

And Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to propose agency consolidation to streamline government — though he hasn’t outlined specifics. He has talked about eliminating HUD (in fact, he mentioned that at the same fundraiser where he dismissed 47% of Americans as moochers.

He’s also said he plans to cut the size of the federal workforce by 10 percent and bring federal pay more in line with the private sector: Bringing federal pay “more in line” with the private sector is presumably a euphemism for freezing or cutting it.

Romney, who said in 1994 that he wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, said during one of the primary debates that he favored sending FEMA’s functions to the states, or “if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”

The D’s, with Hurricane Sandy still wreaking havoc, are insisting this meant abolishing FEMA. But Romney’s campaign has been in clarify mode, insisting that that didn’t mean eliminating FEMA, only giving the states a greater role. Romney, at an event in Dayton, declined to answer reporters’ shouted questions on this.

But don’t hold your breath for a Cabinet restructuring no matter what the election outcome. Congressional fiefdoms make that extraordinarily difficult absent some cataclysmic event like 9/11, which prompted creation of the Department of Homeland Security.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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