Small Government

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Blue Velvet, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    I often read many posts here from conservatives, and it's often clear what they're against and, in abstract and with less clarity, what they're for.

    One of these talismanic ideas that comes up time and time again is the idea of 'small government'. So, this is a thread to explore what that could mean in practice, not some theoretical slogan.

    My assumption is that this idea of 'small government' is bound up with governmental spending so, according to Wikipedia, this is a breakdown of the 2010 federal budget. What would you cut or change? And why?


    Mandatory spending: $2.184 trillion (+15.6%)
    $695 billion (+4.9%) - Social Security
    $453 billion (+6.6%) - Medicare
    $290 billion (+12.0%) - Medicaid
    $0 billion (-100%) - Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
    $0 billion (-100%) - Financial stabilization efforts
    $11 billion (+275%) - Potential disaster costs
    $571 billion (-15.2%) - Other mandatory programs
    $164 billion (+18.0%) - Interest on National Debt

    Discretionary spending: $1.368 trillion (+13.1%)
    $663.7 billion (+12.7%) - Department of Defense (including Overseas Contingency Operations)
    $78.7 billion (-1.7%) - Department of Health and Human Services
    $72.5 billion (+2.8%) - Department of Transportation
    $52.5 billion (+10.3%) - Department of Veterans Affairs
    $51.7 billion (+40.9%) - Department of State and Other International Programs
    $47.5 billion (+18.5%) - Department of Housing and Urban Development
    $46.7 billion (+12.8%) - Department of Education
    $42.7 billion (+1.2%) - Department of Homeland Security
    $26.3 billion (-0.4%) - Department of Energy
    $26.0 billion (+8.8%) - Department of Agriculture
    $23.9 billion (-6.3%) - Department of Justice
    $18.7 billion (+5.1%) - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    $13.8 billion (+48.4%) - Department of Commerce
    $13.3 billion (+4.7%) - Department of Labor
    $13.3 billion (+4.7%) - Department of the Treasury
    $12.0 billion (+6.2%) - Department of the Interior
    $10.5 billion (+34.6%) - Environmental Protection Agency
    $9.7 billion (+10.2%) - Social Security Administration
    $7.0 billion (+1.4%) - National Science Foundation
    $5.1 billion (-3.8%) - Corps of Engineers
    $5.0 billion (+100%) - National Infrastructure Bank
    $1.1 billion (+22.2%) - Corporation for National and Community Service
    $0.7 billion (0.0%) - Small Business Administration
    $0.6 billion (-14.3%) - General Services Administration
    $19.8 billion (+3.7%) - Other Agencies
    $105 billion - Other


    Feel free to drill down into the figures for specific departments to highlight programmes that you feel should go or stay. Although I'm sure there are others, here's just one link that itemises specific programmes e.g.

    Also, see:
  2. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
  3. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    The UK equivalent i guess would be your government pension and unemployment benefits
  4. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    I think Conservatives want less government. They don't believe the Federal govt. should be in he Social Security, Medicare or Education.
  5. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    Looking at it overall that the budget is up 15% YoY seems a bit irresponsible to be honest.
  6. Little HZ macrumors regular

    Little HZ

    Nov 15, 2008
    New Mexico
    Although they seem to be more than willing to make up for it with huge military spendng ... :rolleyes:
  7. Queso Suspended

    Mar 4, 2006
    I'd clear out the education budget. From the evidence it's not providing value for money ;)
  8. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    As one point, I think, unlike the previous administration, the costs of both wars were tallied under the federal budget, instead of separate appropriations from Congress, hence the "including Overseas Contingency Operations" bit.

    I remember reading about it at the time but am happy to be shown that this is wrong.
  9. MyDesktopBroke macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2007
    Strange that every Republican in house would vote against dismantling medicare then, no?
  10. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Im curious why the Treasury dept needs so much. How much do they spend to make the money that they spend. What is the ratio of a dollar in price of print to value. How much does it cost to print 1 million dollars.
  11. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003

    Quite the leap you've taken there.

    The basic functions of the Department of the Treasury include:

    Managing Federal finances;
    Collecting taxes, duties and monies paid to and due to the U.S. and paying all bills of the U.S.;
    Currency and coinage;
    Managing Government accounts and the public debt;
    Supervising national banks and thrift institutions;
    Advising on domestic and international financial, monetary, economic, trade and tax policy;
    Enforcing Federal finance and tax laws;
    Investigating and prosecuting tax evaders, counterfeiters, and forgers.
  12. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    In which case, I'm curious to hear their plans and how they'd do it. After all, it's one thing to boldly claim:

    Yet, it's entirely another to show people how it would be done and explain the consequences of doing so.
  13. Beerfloat macrumors regular


    Feb 21, 2009
    I'd cut defense spending in half and put half of that in both training and job creation so that we can redeploy ex-soldiers in areas of health care, education and community improvement.

    The other half of the spending cut will go into paying off the national debt.
  14. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    Well, if it were me I'd cut quite a bit of this:

    by maybe not invading other countries for a while. There are perhaps other places that some of that money could be spent, trivial stuff really, perhaps like trying to cure cancer or something.

    Then I'd try to find out where this was actually going:

    and maybe try to economise a tiny bit on the photocopying etc. ;)
  15. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool
    The term "small government" to me, isn't just about how big the budget was, but the reach of government into private enterprise and private citizens. Probably due to the believe that the government can administer but cannot manage. Because if its just about the money, its all relative.

    I'm not trying to derail the thread... It could be why the public option in health care is such a heated and bipartisan issue. Nearly all republicans oppose it while democrats don't seem to want to budge on it. A conservative take on that would be that it interferes too much in private enterprise where as a "small government" would be more laissez faire about it.
  16. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    I agree but this is reflected in the budgeting almost directly. So Blue Velvet is right to do it this way. For example we could cut the department of education all together by giving them a budget of $0. And then this would allow the free market plus local gov. to decide what's appropriate in the text books instead of having government mandate (or thwart via funding) that gay couples appear in social reading examples xx%, God be mentioned or not, the teaching of actual american history and the constitution could once again be established and taught correctly, etc. etc. The teachers and administrators make up a pretty good cross section of the local community so it would likely be representative and balanced. Schools would be funded by state and local taxes and so the details of curriculum, campus security, and etc. would be handled at that level as well.

    That's just one example but with a little meditation you can see here I hope, how budget appropriations (federal government spending) are directly related to freedom and liberty. The more the federal government spends the less freedoms and liberties we have. Some programs already established (like the medi-stuff) should probably remain until the people figure out on their own how much better it is to handle these things in a decentralized non-governmental fashion.

    The military budget is the biggest and worst IMO. We don't need huge armies stationed all over the world. This is an absurd concept and usually does nothing but cause trouble. The installations in Japan are a perfect example of this. They do nothing for the Japanese and there is quite a lot of rape, violence, and other crime associated with every military installation here. That's like a 15 or 20 billion cut right there (just Japan) and it would solve a lot of problems. etc. etc.

    The way it works generally speaking now is that we pay our state and local taxes which then go to the federal government and then the feds decide and negotiate if they'll give it back (to the states) and what it can be used for. Why? That's silly. And who are they to tell us in our own communities what we can do with our money? Just keep it in the state realm in the first place like we used to do.
  17. jknight8907 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 14, 2004
    Hudson Valley NY
    Cut this immensely. Quit meddling in all sorts of other countries and worry about what's going on back at home. Every other major country is doing just fine on a fraction of what we spend on defense, why can't we?
  18. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    And just to be clear:

    Bush roughly tripled that size of government. :(

    Obama has already spent more than all other presidents combined! :confused::eek::eek::confused:
  19. bobber205 macrumors 68020


    Nov 15, 2005
    Link? You are aware we almost had a 2nd great depression right?
  20. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Almost? It ain't over yet!!!

    Fact: Obama's first BUDGET is 4X Bush's last Budget. The difference between Budget and tax revenue is called the Budget deficit. To clear a deficit you can either increase tax revenue or sell debt called Bonds, which have to be paid back with interest. The money a country owes is called the national Debt

    Aside from Obama's budget Congress passed and he signed other, off budget spending acts such as bailouts/TARP and the Stimulus. There were no funds to pay for these spending bills so more debt/Bonds are being sold.

    If you add up all the money that our government has committed to spend. since January, it is more than the spending of all prior administrations combined. In addition, this does not include the money costs of Cap & Trade and the Healthcare plans.

    A few sources but WTH can't you look it up yourself?

    By way of some history, in 1920 there was a depression that most people have forgotten about. Unemployment was higher and the economic downturn was greater than in the"Great Depression" of the 1930's. The government at the time responded by cutting government spending and lowering taxes instead of what FDR and Obama do. The depression was over in 2 years, by the mid 20's unemployment was down to 1.8% and the National debt was paid off entirely.

    A few sources:

    Other interesting links:
  21. callmemike20 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 21, 2007
    And a Great Depression requires the government to spend more? Give me proof of this please.
  22. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    How does callmemike20's economic policy work where the government spends less when the economy is in/beginning to downturn?
  23. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Read the second set of (three) links in post #20.
  24. Techhie macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2008
    The hub of stupidity
    They need to reevaluate the education system instead of cutting the budget. Pouring money into a failing system is pointless, and it is likewise ignorant to take it away and encourage cheating on mandatory state testing that impacts fund distribution.

    This coming from a High School student in Nevada, rated #49 in public education (behind Mississippi, of course :rolleyes:)
  25. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    Not to derail the thread either but the US governments version of laissez faire economics and free market private enterprise has resulted in an abysmal health system for the populace by comparison to other countries with UHC. It's more expensive per capita with inferior gross health outcomes. There's absolutely no reason why there can't be a mixture of private enterprise and a public safety net in healthcare.

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