Item description for Downsizing the Federal Government by Chris Edwards...
The federal government is running large budget deficits, spending too much, and heading toward a financial crisis. Federal spending has soared under President George W. Bush, and the costs of programs for the elderly are set to balloon in coming years.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 5.8" Height: 0.9" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Dec 25, 2005
Publisher Cato Institute
ISBN 1930865821 ISBN13 9781930865822
Availability 0 units.
More About Chris Edwards
Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute and a top expert on federal and state tax and budget issues. Before joining Cato in 2001, Edwards was senior economist on the congressional Joint Economic Committee examining tax, budget, and entrepreneurship issues. Previously, he was a consultant and manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers and an economist with the Tax Foundation. He is the author of "Downsizing the Federal Government" and co-author of "Global Tax Revolution".
Reviews - What do customers think about Downsizing the Federal Government?
Calling John McCain! Feb 8, 2008
First off, let me state that the price of this book has no correlation with its value. At the moment I see that there is an this site z shop copy of the paperback edition available for only a penny. This has nothing to do with the worth of the product though. What I suspect is that Cato, the publisher, printed copies and made them available for free in order to get the word out. I'm fairly certain this is why there are so many copies in circulation, and, thus, why the price is so low (happily, I got mine a couple of weeks ago for only a penny too).
Long has the USA been slouching towards socialism but I believe that we now stand on the precipice of socialism completely destabilizing our economy and dooming our collective prospects. I know this to be true due to the fact that the bond rating service Moodys is now considering a reduction in our bond ratings due to our government not being able to meet its healthcare and pension obligations. What will our representatives do to solve the crisis? Well, they'll raise taxes and make emotional appeals "for the kids" or "for the elderly." The last thing they'll ever do is follow the excellent plan Mr. Edwards sets forth in Chapter 4. His plan--which really is very modest--would cut spending by 380 billion a year. This does not sound like much in lieu of our recently announced 3.1 billion dollar budget, yet it would be enough to place us back upon the road to solvency. At the very least, it would make balancing the budget on an annual basis a distinct possibility.
When Barack Obama talks about "change" the very last thing he longs to do is actually change anything. Statist visionaries are ensconced in both parties, but generally only those on the left react to suggestions for reform with allegations of cruelty, racism, and sexism (as Charlie Rangel has done). What none of our politicians want to do is explain why the Economic Research Service, the Agricultural Statistics Service, the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, Rural Utilities Service, the Foreign Agricultural Service, Pacific salmon state grants, and the International Trade Administration are not what they seem: wasteful grants which benefit special interest agencies. Our leaders are too self-important to make known why the needs of the public would not be better served by terminating and/or privatizing such entities. Once again, it's all emotion all the time in America. That's why this fetish for government expansion has jeopardized all of our futures. Let's all send a copy to John McCain.
The horrors of federal spending. Aug 11, 2007
The book which clearly lays out the destructive spending of the federal government should be mandatory reading for all legislators, the majority of whom are theives. I urge all Americans to read it and then send a letter to their congressman demanding an immediante downsizing of federal spending before our country becomes bankrupt sending us into the most horrible depression which will take decades to recover from. Let us be concerned about our grandchildren who will live in poverty unless something is done now. The book lays out how the downsizing can be readily accomplished.
A nice idea Dec 4, 2006
Instead of advocating tax increases in the name of fiscal responsibility, this book focuses on how the bloated federal budget ($2.5 trillion in 2005, or about 20% of gross domestic product) could be reduced if our leaders put their minds to it.
Mr. Edwards argues that many current federal programs are harmful (e.g., import restrictions), unduly beneficial to special interests (agricultural subsidies, corporate welfare), and/or better left to the states (education) or private sector (rail transportation).
One special problem is government grants, which are used by the federal government to influence programs of state or local governments. Some $426 billion in grants were paid out in 2005, ranging from $186 billion for the federal share of Medicaid to "hundreds of more obscure programs that most taxpayers have never heard of." The result is to encourage overspending for the stated grant purposes, foster federal, state and local bureaucracies to document compliance with federal mandates, and reduce flexibility and innovation at the state level.
Another problem is duplication. Different federal programs often have overlapping objectives, resulting in "turf wars" and/or unnecessary costs to ensure coordination. Thus, the GAO has reported 50 different programs for the homeless in eight federal agencies, 23 programs for housing aid in four agencies, 26 programs for food and nutrition aid in six agencies, and 44 programs for employment and training services in nine agencies. If a program is ineffective or obsolete, the typical response is to create additional programs -- without eliminating the existing program.
Edwards lists more than 100 programs and agencies as candidates for elimination, with resultant savings of $380 billion per year. He also advocates cost-saving changes to entitlement programs. If all of his recommendations were implemented, the current federal deficit could be converted to a surplus without raising taxes.
Instead of streamlining the government, why not concentrate on managing its programs better? The answer is that efforts along this line, going back to the Committee of Economy and Efficiency in Government appointed by Taft in 1910, have failed repeatedly.
Is government downsizing possible? Sure, if enough people demand it, but our political leaders typically hear much more about how additional money should be spent than they do about how existing programs should be eliminated to save money.
In summary, this is a sound and useful book. Putting its recommendations into practice, however, may prove easier said than done.
Almost too easy Jan 23, 2006
Edwards' take on the role of federal government, in the first few chapters, is a stunningly refreshing look at what our budget should be according to our constitution. Definitely not a partisan writer...equally blasts the GOP and Dems.
Waste not, Want not Jan 3, 2006
Many believe, in some visceral way, that the federal government is beyond gargantuan, so when I came across Chris Edwards' book, Downsizing the Federal Government, I thought, "Great! Someone has done the math and put together a plan."
My second thought was, "What's his agenda?" And so I checked his bio and found that it must be a Libertarian agenda because he is Director of Tax Policy at the Cato Institute. Okay, fine, at least I know where Edwards is coming from.
Armed with this knowledge, I began to read. "Downsizing" is refreshingly accessible--the language is clear and the plentiful graphs and tables should be easily understood by readers who paid attention in high school. I detected little of the disheartening doubletalk that occurs when someone is trying to promote their own interests at your expense.
For example, I'm sure we're all in favor of cutting "wasteful" federal programs, but how do you define what is wasteful? The author defines five categories on page 3, and they do not seem to be politically or culturally overloaded.
In all, Edwards proposes about $400 billion worth of cuts. In a federal budget of $2.5 trillion, it seems a reasonable goal. Where one might expect him to slash entitlements such as Medicare, he trims. Claims are supported by data; for instance, the author suggests privatizing the air traffic control system, pointing out that it has been successfully done in Canada and other countries--at least partially--and detailing a history of poor management in the agency. On the other hand, his proposed cuts under the category of "actively damaging programs," are more difficult to evaluate, since he relies on work by other think tanks whose methodologies and points-of-view would probably be unknown to the average reader.
Edwards doesn't stop with cuts, but also advocates numerous changes to the budget process and Washington's "culture of spending".
This is a book you can dip into from time-to-time: read a bit, mull it over and jot an email to your U.S. Representative. Edwards may be spitting into the wind, but his effort is credible, the goal is worthy and the book should be widely distributed if only to jump-start some dialog on this important topic.