The Housing and Urban Development Department could also be revamped. The federal government should only enforce fair housing laws. Home ownership is not a right, and the department’s role in supporting home ownership for lower- and moderate-income families through its mortgage insurance and rent subsidy programs should be re-evaluated for its effectiveness, with repetitive and overlapping programs trimmed back.
Programs such as community economic development, housing rehabilitation, public housing and homeless assistance should be handled with block grants at the state and local levels, with the federal role being that of arbiter and enforcer of program standards and quality of service.
The Transportation Department has been thoroughly compromised in its mission to ensure a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system in this country. The DOT has 55,000 employees and a budget of about $70 billion, and our roads and bridges, constructed by union labor, are crumbling. Our rail system is slow, inefficient and consistently loses money. Airlines are regulated into the ground, and it is getting harder and harder to get there from here.
Of all of the Cabinet departments, the Veterans Affairs Department should have access to the latest technology and most efficient service delivery models. It should have the highest-trained and most dedicated staff and the most modern facilities. It is the agency responsible for administering benefit programs for veterans, their families and their survivors. It is a shambles and delivers substandard care and service to those who risked life and limb to defend this nation and protect the blessing of liberty. The Veterans Affairs secretary oversees a budget of about $90 billion and a staff of about 235,000 employees.
It is more necessary than ever to apply market principles to managing the government. Politicians have cried about government waste for years. The reasons for action are now clearer than ever.
Ziad Abdelnour is president and CEO of Blackhawk Partners Inc., founder and chairman of the Financial Policy Council and author of “Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation In the Age of Welfare Politics.”