Which Candidates will Downsize Government?

I spent a few hours this morning reviewing the specific policy proposals on the candidate websites of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ted Cruz. It was a valuable experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Even if you have been following closely, as I have, you might be surprised at what some candidates have in their plans. You might be more surprised at what is missing.

As a liberty-minded conservative, my primary issue is the promotion of individual liberty, which can only be brought about by drastic reductions in not only the size (headcount and dollars spent), but in the scope (breadth of issues upon which control is asserted), of the federal government.

Every single remaining candidate has specific plans to secure the border, reduce taxes, and streamline regulations and entitlements. Additionally, every remaining candidate with the exception of Donald Trump, vows in writing to repeal Obamacare. These issues are not the focus of this review.

I operate under the assumption here that if a candidate has put serious thought into an issue, and is willing to stand by their commitments, they will put those issues onto paper with some specifics. In other words, I am not going to search You Tube to learn where these folks stand. All of the positions below were pulled from written policies and positions from respective candidates’ official websites.

Only Ted Cruz and John Kasich have specific proposals in their plans to reduce the size and scope of government. See the summary of each candidates’ plans to shrink (and grow) government below.

This analysis will be limited to specific proposals to reduce the size and scope of government. Efforts to “streamline” current regulatory structure such as imposing caps on the costs regulations may impose on the economy (Rubio, Cruz and Kasich) and entitlement reform (Rubio) are important, but for this limited purpose they just muddy the waters. It is not clear whether these are simply efforts to “tame the beast” rather than effect real change in Washington.



Reduce the size and scope of government:

Downsize the Department of Transportation. Return operations functions to the state. Keep “a sliver” for research and safety support.

Shrink the Department of Education by consolidating over 100 programs into four key block grants, limit DoE to a support and research function for states.

ELIMINATE the 40,000 employee, $12B annual Department of Commerce. Return economic power to states.

Grow Government:

Rebuild the military from the ground up. increase defense spending by $102B.



Reduce the size and scope of government:

‘Five for Freedom’ Plan – a plan to wind down and ultimately eliminate the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Grow Government:

Triple the number of Border Patrol Agents.

Increase military spending to 4% of GDP.




Reduce the size and scope of government:

No specific proposals other than a reference to “vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the Federal government, ending redundant government programs”.

Grow Government:

Triple the number of ICE officers.

Increase funding for the VA though no specific numbers are stated.



Reduce the size and scope of government:

Loose reference to “reducing federal workforce” in Washington.

Grow Government:

Loose reference to “Higher Education Reform”, which implies an increased federal role in a state matter.

Return to Secretary Gates’ FY 2012 baseline military budget.



Yes, I excluded Ben Carson while including John Kasich. This is based on the very simple fact that Ben Carson is not in a top two position in polls in any state, and has not earned a top two finish in actual voting in any state. John Kasich satisfies both of those criteria.  If John Kasich fails to win 2nd in some Midwest states, and 1st in Ohio, then I will acknowledge that his campaign might need to wind down, but I think it is silly to do that after three tiny states and the results he has had for very little money. I concede that Ben Carson most likely would have proposals to reduce the federal government. I just don’t have time to review websites all day!

Notice, all candidates want to increase Military/VA spending. I am a Rand Paul supporter, and I firmly believe if we limited defense spending to Defense activities, we would have the most powerful military in the world without increasing spending at all, and probably could reduce spending. Unfortunately, with Rand out of the campaign, that idea has died on the vine for this year. We have to deal with what is left, and I find at least some consolation in the fact that military spending was envisioned by the founding fathers, and is constitutionally appropriate, even if excessive.

I am voting next Tuesday and I am currently undecided. This exercise has helped me to put ‘conservatism’ into perspective.

I have narrowed my search to two very different, and very imperfect candidates. 


5 thoughts on “Which Candidates will Downsize Government?”

  1. This is not, I hope, simply a reactive defense of the candidate I support, because a clear and concise wish-list, which can also be (and usually is) optimistically labeled a “plan”, would be easy to formulate and quick to publish. I believe Trump should see this done forthwith. These are goalposts, rather than detailed game plans, so no need to be in the weeds yet. Which I think may explain, partially at least, why there is no specificity in Trump’s current pronouncements on this issue, and no position paper specifically addressing it. Nonetheless, this is something that can and should be fixed immediately. That said, I believe he is reluctant to be distracted at this point, and reluctant to distract voters, by demonstrating encyclopedic knowledge of the current CIA Fact Book. Time enough to refine and illuminate as things develop. His messaging has been simplistic, but effective. I believe this is by design, but also due to Trump’s instincts and selling experience. His focus now is the nomination. Thereafter, his focus will be the election. I expect we will see evolution all along the way. Once in office, I would expect a President Trump to act with blinding (unheard of) speed to execute a very detailed and carefully plotted plan.

    One of the things that new politicians quickly learn is that real productivity isn’t as important the need to fog the atmosphere with voluminous writings, papers, memos and directives. Results always take a back seat to process in Washington DC. Senator Cruz and John Kasich (and to a lesser extent Marco Rubio) are fully indoctrinated into these regimes, comfortable with them, secure in them.

    Please note Trump’s responsiveness during this campaign. It’s been impressive. He was admittedly a novice in the processes of a political campaign; stung by his earl lack of an effective “ground game”, he acted with speed and agility to remedy that failing, and with outstanding results. Business, especially his sort of entrepreneurial business, has to be fleet-footed in order to survive. There is little room for grinding process in this environment. Trump is accustomed to thinking past process problems to identify solutions; then going back to remake the process to fit what he wants to happen. Quickly. Career politicians, which both Kasich and Cruz certainly are, and which Rubio aspires to be, just don’t have skills to force solutions and results in the grist mill that government has become. I hear it so often, even from Kasich when he plaintively says “We can’t.” We can’t build a wall, we can’t deport millions of people, we can’t, we can’t…do anything but what we HAVE been doing. Of course the other candidates do this too. Defeated out of the gate.

    Likewise, businesses don’t survive when their expenses exceed their revenues. Government, conversely, no problem! Everything’s affordable, anytime, all the time. Some “creative destruction” in government is not only desirable, but required if we are to survive to see another century turn. I would look for President Donald Trump to immediately focus on budget deficits and national debt with more intensity than any other present candidate. And I believe it’s entirely reasonable to expect better results from someone who understands basic economics.

    I don’t want someone to gracefully and efficiently manage our continuing national decline. I have no faith that Cruz, Rubio or Kasich will be able to do anything but. Truth be told, maybe no one can reverse the decline, or even stop it. But I’m willing to try some populism, some nationalism, and a different sort of man as president. We are in dire times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must remind you that Cruz was elected four years ago. Maybe Kasich is a career politician. Cruz has been in government but most of the time has been spent litigating. He has been ‘around’ politics, but so has Trump. Remember, Trump has been floating his name in presidential elections since 1988 when Cruz was in high school!

    I understand your point that a leader doesn’t need to be in the weeds. I agree completely.

    Leveling with you, as someone who fully acknowledges that Trump could be the nominee, it is not his politics or policy positions that concern me the most. The majority of my opposition to Trump comes from my gut. I could explain it in great, excruciating detail, but it would probably just irritate you.

    I know this is ridiculous, but I have to plead with you at least once, on the record: Please don’t support this guy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cruz, yes; we both read the same book. But he’s been in politics, albeit not elected, most of his working life. It’s all of a piece. The longer you’re in it, the less you can be trusted. His campaign tactics demonstrate that he is willing to associate himself with the lowest of the low. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. “Floating your name” and renting politicians isn’t the same as being one. But it does demonstrate that he understands they’re parasites, and that politics is nothing more than the management of the tax farm for its owners. It has taken me the better part of a lifetime to come to that understanding. I can’t expect younger people, without the experience of extra decades of hearing the same promises, the same excuses, to be in my frame of mind.

      There are aspects of Trump’s personality that I find distasteful, occasionally repugnant. But, as you say, you yourself are considering two very imperfect candidates, and if I have it right, one of them has no possible path to nomination or election, and the other only an outside chance. The lies make me weary. Authenticity appeals, even if it comes in a brash and abrasive package. I believe Trump is less devious and more authentic than either Cruz or Rubio. No need to rehash all of the other issues we’ve discussed at length. Let me ask you; have you read his books, or given even cursory examination to his history? There’s more than meets the eye.

      I hear your plea, but Trump remains my candidate for the time being, and I support him as the person I believe gives us the best chance to do some bold and necessary things. However, every day is a new day, and who knows what tomorrow will bring?

      Liked by 1 person

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