Americans are expressing concern about the abuse of power they are witnessing in many governmental agencies, from the IRS to the FBI. GOP candidates are listening, and many are putting these concerns at the center of their platforms.
In January, a poll revealed that 60% of voters, including a quarter of Democratic participants, were against the hiring of thousands of additional IRS agents and the $71 billion in additional funding awarded to the agency in the disastrous “Inflation Reduction Act.”
A June survey showed that less than 60% of Americans trust the FBI, and only 51% have faith in the Department of Justice. Predictably, these views are split along party lines, with Democrats wanting the agencies reformed and Republicans pushing for the elimination and subsequent rebuilding of these institutions.
Not surprisingly, support for Congress has dropped to 34%. Per the June Fox News Poll, less than one-third of Americans trust the federal government at all.
The recent focus on government waste and the expanding authority of agencies such as the FBI has provided Republican candidates with a fresh campaign platform. Some GOP contenders are highlighting the overreach of these agencies, which have accumulated excessive power beyond their constitutional mandate. Many are advocating for a substantial restructuring or even removal of various bureaucratic government entities.
South Carolina’s Tim Scott would move to eliminate political appoints within the Department of Justice, a move that he hopes would end the “two-tiered system of law enforcement.” He would like to restructure the FBI and decentralize the government from Washington, D.C. to other locations. He doesn’t call for the elimination of the Department of Education but would like to decrease its size and send the excess funds to individual states.
Vivek Ramaswamy is vocal in his plan to try to eliminate the Department of Education and send the agency’s funding to states. His proposal would see the elimination of the Department of Education’s role in student loans and grants, sending this responsibility to the Treasury and Labor and State Departments. He is calling to cut the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s budget, citing a 47% redundancy in the agency’s staffing. His move, he believes, would speed up approvals for nuclear plants and save the agency 62% in spending. He proposes the FBI be eliminated or massively overhauled.
Former vice-president Mike Pence would like to see an end to the “bloated federal spending and centralized government structure,” calling for the elimination of the Department of Education, decentralized welfare, health, and housing programs, and the return of more than 640 million acres owned by the government to states. If agencies are defunded, he supports sending the money to individual states.
Florida’s Ron DeSantis is calling for the elimination of the IRS and the Departments of Energy, Education, and Commerce. If he fails to close these agencies, he intends to use them to “push back against woke ideology and against the leftism that we see creeping into all institutions of American life.”
Former president Donald Trump attempted to close 19 agencies during his time in office but failed. He tried to defund a dozen sub-Cabinet-level agencies, like the National Endowment for the Arts and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, but these attempts were blocked by his own party.
Other GOP presidential candidates have more generalized plans to prevent bureaucracy and cut spending without outwardly eliminating departments. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has proposed “term limits” of five years for government employees working within an agency, after which they will remain in the agency but rotate to a different position. This move would end the decades-long tenures of figureheads like Anthony Fauci, who dominated the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for almost 40 years.
While closing federal agencies is a popular concept for small-government-minded Republicans, it’s a long shot for any president. Even former president Ronald Reagan called for the elimination of the then-newly formed Department of Education in 1981, a move blocked by Democrats.
For Democrats, the government is currently just the way they like it – bloated, corrupt, and completely off the rails. While GOP candidates are calling for limiting the government’s power, Democrats would like nothing more than to see it elevated and expanded to be even more intrusive for the American people.
And nothing is stopping them, except a handful of renegade GOP candidates with ideas so crazy, they just might work.