American Elephants


Is Bigger Better? Bigger Bureaucracy? Bigger Debt? by The Elephant's Child

President Obama announced today plans to borrow some more millions from China to create — another new federal bureaucracy.  It’s hard to get a handle on the number of bureaucracies created. The infamous ObamaCare flow chart showed over 100 new bureaucracies just in health care, but many other departments have ballooned.

The new one this time is the International Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). (They apparently get their acronym at birth). It is scheduled to have as many as 60 employees, a budget of $26 million — about $433,000 per employee — which Heritage points out may be bloated even by government standards.  The current US. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) currently spends about $207,000 per employee.

Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) the chairman of the Trade Sub-Committee of the House Committee on Ways and Means issued the following statement when he learned of Obama’s request for vast new powers from Congress so that he may restructure the federal government, beginning with a merger of certain trade-related agencies. Brady says USTR has a long-standing reputation as one of the smallest yet most productive agencies in the federal government.

I’m all for streamlining agencies, but simply burying the nation’s key trade negotiators within a mountain of new bureaucracy will only damage their effectiveness and delay efforts to open new markets for American businesses and agriculture. Whatever the true agenda is, I will vigorously oppose any effort by the White House to diminish the role and resources of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

USTR is nimble, aggressive and operates on a tiny budget – yet participates in round-the-clock negotiations with trading partners throughout the world while producing job creating trade agreements to spur the American economy. Heaping who knows how many more layers of Washington bureaucracy upon them will neither save money nor help our struggling economy.

The federal government excels at duplication and redundancy, and consequently already has several other agencies devoted to foreign trade practices, including USTR and the Dept. of Commerce’s Market Access and Compliance and Import Administration divisions. The new staff is likely to be drawn from these agencies, the very people Obama thinks haven’t been doing enough. President Obama told the UAW :

I’m creating a trade enforcement unit that will bring the full resources of the federal government to bear to investigate and counter unfair trade practices around the world, including by countries like China.

Has China changed its trade practice? Are they getting stuffy about lending money? Why do we suddenly need to change the successful work of an effective agency? What has changed in 2012?  Oh, Mitt Romney has spoken out forcefully and negatively on China’s trade practice. Google lists 189,000 results on a search for Romney speech on China trade practice.  Some are undoubtedly repeats, but that could have something to do with it. Do you suppose that Obama held one of his very rare press conferences this morning just because it was Super Tuesday?




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