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Press Release

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Barr Calls for Commission on Wasteful Government

Recommendations to Serve as Roadmap to Shrink Size, Scope, and Cost of Federal Government

In a statement released by the Barr 2008 presidential campaign, Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr called for a new commission to address wasteful government.

"Federal finances are in a catastrophic condition and are getting worse.  The deficit next year will run a half trillion dollars.  Congress just approved a housing bail-out that could end up sticking taxpayers with as much as $1 trillion in losses by two government-created housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"The current national debt is $9.5 trillion, and the debt ceiling was recently raised to $10.6 trillion to give congressional spenders a little 'breathing room.'  Total unfunded liability for America’s two big retirement programs, Social Security and Medicare, is more than $100 trillion.  

"Where is the government going to get the money necessary to pay even a fraction of these obligations?

"Salvaging the federal government’s finances will require a comprehensive, systematic reevaluation of programs to identify those which are of dubious constitutional authority, unnecessary, wasteful, or sometimes all three at once.  For this purpose, as president, I will appoint the Commission to Cut Wasteful Government; not just waste in government, but wasteful government itself.

"Modeled after the so-called Grace Commission, created by President Ronald Reagan in 1982—when federal outlays ran “only” $746 billion, compared to more than $3.1 trillion budgeted next year—the Commission to Cut Wasteful Government will be tasked with assessing every federal agency and program.  The Grace Commission reported back in 1984, identifying $424 billion in potential savings over the first three years alone.  Unfortunately, Congress failed to act on the Commission’s recommendations, leaving expenditures and deficits to race ever upward.  A decade later the new Republican Congress put a slight brake on government growth, but that slowdown proved to be only temporary.  Unfortunately, outlays sharply accelerated under President George W. Bush and a Republican Congress, and continue to go up with Congress under Democratic control.

"The Commission to Cut Wasteful Government will be instructed to be even tougher than the Grace Commission—rather like a Grace Commission on steroids. The panel will be directed to evaluate every federal government program, office, agency, and department according to the following criteria:

"First, is there constitutional authority for the expenditure, regulation, or agency?  Most people in Washington have come to forget that the Constitution does not make the federal government a government of general jurisdiction.  Rather, Article 1, Section 8 enumerates those powers possessed by Congress.  The Constitution is best seen as establishing a few islands of government power in a sea of individual liberty; quite different from the massive, persuasive and overpowering power and presence of today’s federal government.  Only those programs which fit on these islands of legitimate constitutional authority should be maintained.

"Second, if the program has a constitutional basis, is that activity best conducted by the national government, or better carried out by states and localities?  For instance, the Constitution does not authorize Congress to make laws regarding education.  However, even if there was constitutional warrant for federal involvement in education, states and localities are far better able to design and manage educational programs to meet the needs of local communities and families.  The federal government can legitimately promote interstate highways, but funding for and construction of intrastate transportation infrastructure should be left to states and localities.

"Finally, assuming the program is constitutional and best provided at the federal level, is the specific initiative cost-effective; that is, do the costs outweigh the benefits?  For instance, the national government has obvious authority to address pollution problems that extend beyond any single state, and a federal approach might offer the only feasible solution.  However, many of the regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency impose far greater costs than the benefits achieved.  Almost all business subsidy programs, even if not constitutionally suspect, have proved to be enormously wasteful.

"The Commission’s report will become the basis for my administration to identify and prioritize government programs, activities, outlays, offices, departments, and regulations to be eliminated or cut back.  I will use this list as part of a concerted campaign to roll back federal spending and regulation.  I will use my powers as president to reduce outlays, reform regulations, and reshape the bureaucracy.  I will also propose legislation to the Congress to implement the Commission’s recommendations.

"Controlling and reining in federal finances will not be easy.  The primary problem is one of political will.  Whatever elected officials say publicly, everyone in Washington knows that government spending is out of control and a tsunami of unfunded liabilities threatens to wreck the federal budget and drown taxpayers; however, legislators must be convinced to act.

"I am committed to working with Congress to bring spending under control.  However, I will use my veto power, if necessary, to enforce fiscal discipline.  And I will make my case directly to the American in order to win their support for the tough steps that are necessary if we are to put Washington’s fiscal house in order."

Bob Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, where he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to his congressional career, Barr was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and also served as an official with the CIA.  Since leaving Congress, Barr has been practicing law and has teamed up with groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Conservative Union to actively advocate every American citizens’ right to privacy and other civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Along with this, Bob is committed to helping elect leaders who will strive for smaller government, lower taxes and abundant individual freedom.

The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties.  You can find more information on the Libertarian Party by visiting www.LP.org. The Libertarian Party proudly stands for smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.