What do these federal agencies and programs have in common?
Agricultural Research Service, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Rural Development programs, Women, Infants & Children, Foreign Agricultural Service, National Institute of Standards & Technology, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Economic Development Administration, National Telecommunications & Information Administration, Small Business Administration, State Department foreign aid, Fund for African Development, International Development assistance, Economic Support Fund, Peacekeeping Operations, Trade Development Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, National Forest System, Appalachian Regional Commission, Department of Energy administration, Fossil Energy Research & Development, energy conservation programs, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, Community Service Employment for Older Americans, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, Administration on Aging, Youthbuild, Adult Education, programs for K-12 and higher education, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, rail subsidies, Federal Transit Administration, Financial Management Service, Veterans Affairs construction projects, Housing Counseling Assistance, public housing programs, Community Development Financial Institutions Funds, Corporation for National & Community Service, Legal Services Corporation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation.
They were all cut in 1995 under a rescissions package engineered by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and cut last week in the budget agreement reached by Republican and Democratic leaders.
The lesson here is that there’s a big difference between spending cuts and terminating entire agencies and their programs. Like the mythological Hydra, the stump has to be burned after the head is cut off or else it’ll grow back.
Just as they did back in 1995, Republicans are doing a lot of talking about cutting the size of the federal government. However, they aren’t doing much talking about reducing the scope of the federal government’s activities. The Gingrich Republicans failed to reduce the scope of federal activities, and the result was a bipartisan spending orgy that has left the country’s finances in shambles. We literally can’t afford for history to repeat itself.