If the Obama administration follows through on its newly announced effort to identify and weed out unproductive federal programs, it could build public confidence and support for more sweeping fiscal reforms in the future.
The White House has asked federal agencies to submit lists of the programs that are “least critical” to their missions. These programs should total at least 5 percent of each agency’s budget, according to a memo issued by Rahm Emanuel, the President’s chief of staff, and Peter Orszag, the White House budget director.
It would be easy to dismiss the administration’s announcement of this effort as simply a public relations exercise. But two points are worth noting:
- Administration officials say they are considering not just paring back many programs but eliminating them entirely. This would be consistent with the concerns they have expressed in the past over redundant programs. If one program will do the job, we don’t need two – or two dozen.
- The President wants Congress to pass legislation that would create a...