October 7, 2013 4:57PM

Close Washington to Dismantle the Welfare‐​Warfare State

The GOP is attempting to defund ObamaCare by holding the federal government hostage. Congressional Republicans say: Cut the spending or Uncle Sam will have to stay home. 

Unfortunately, while the public doesn’t favor President Obama’s plan to nationalize American health care, people seem even less enthused about Republican tactics. Better would be a threat to close down the government because the government should be shuttered. The GOP should seek to eliminate entire programs and agencies. 

Federal control of health care is a good place to start. The U.S. medical system is a mess, but the government should not decide who gets how much health insurance in what form through whom. 

Moreover, as I wrote in Forbes online:

Corporate welfare should be another target. Republicans rightly worry about perverse incentives created by welfare for the poor since federal programs have wrecked families and communities while discouraging education and work. However, even less justified are a variety of payments to dependent businesses. Export subsidies, research grants, farm subsidies, housing aid, regulatory preferences, and more.

There’s no better reason to underwrite smaller enterprises, through the Small Business Administration. Is there really a critical scarcity of liquor stores requiring taxpayers to pay for additional ones? 

Some tasks, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, just aren’t Washington’s job. Worrying about the construction of apartments and homes should be left to localities and states. 

Another unnecessary bureaucracy is the Department of Education. The national government shouldn’t be trying to run local schools. And why should lower‐​income taxpayers subsidize middle‐​class kids who want to become lawyers?

Grant the federal government authority to create parks involving uniquely scenic or otherwise special lands. There’s still no reason for the Interior Department to own and manage hundreds of millions of acres of forest and range land. 

The Department of Defense possesses—at the sufferance of foreign governments—hundreds of properties abroad. While maintaining cooperative relationships with foreign militaries as well as access to some of their bases is useful, the U.S. has no need for innumerable facilities and garrisons around the globe. The U.S. should act as a back‐​up against the rare hegemonic threat that friendly states could not handle rather than the guardian against every mundane controversy and conflict that arises elsewhere.

Foreign facilities often are justified as logistical way stations for intervening in the Middle East or Central Asia. However, Europe should provide the troops as well as the bases to deal with such hot spots as Egypt and Syria. It would not be isolationism for America to more humbly and prudently engage the world.

Foreign aid should go the way of military intervention. Even humanitarian assistance can have counterproductive impacts, while economic assistance has been a grand failure, doing more to subsidize debilitating collectivism than promote economic reform. 

There’s much at the Justice Department that should be eliminated. Federal criminal law has exploded. In some cases Congress makes crimes out of actions that should be left to civil punishment—environmental disputes, for instance. Federal lawyers also have become the vanguard of political correctness, enforcing a racial spoils system under the guise of promoting affirmative action.

Other federal sacred cows also deserve challenge. The Drug Enforcement Agency arrests people because they prefer to get intoxicated with drugs rather than alcohol. There are scores of welfare and job training programs of dubious effectiveness. If Washington moved from the income to a consumption tax, the IRS would be smaller and much less intrusive. 

While many people are criticizing Republicans for threatening to close the government over ObamaCare, there actually is good reason to go to the brink on shrinking the American Leviathan. Washington meddles in Americans’ lives far more than the Founders ever imagined—and circumstances ever justified. It’s time to reverse the process and really shut down government.