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Trial Balloons

Making Government Work For You

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump supporters were asked what drew them to their preferred candidate. Time and again, they pointed to his “outsider” status. Fed up with conventional politicians, they decided to take a chance on someone different -- someone likely to shake things up.

That’s where the reform plan issued April 12 by the Office of Management and Budget comes in. The title --“Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce” - is a snoozer, but it promises to deliver a real wake-up call to a bloated federal government that is sorely in need of a diet.

Americans who recently filed their tax returns will hardly need much convincing. “There is duplication and redundancy everywhere,” President Trump has said. “Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted on activities that are not delivering results for hardworking American taxpayers.”

Indeed, the president has said it is a “moral duty” to make government leaner and more accountable. “We must do a lot more with less.”

That’s why this plan has the potential to create the kind of lasting impact that Trump voters have been anticipating. Because -- let’s face it -- doing more with less is hardly a forte of government at any level.

But that’s exactly what any company in the private sector, big or small, must do to survive. You either figure out how to deliver the best value for the best price, or you go out of business. Why should things be different for the federal government?

At least, that’s how it looks to the hard-working Americans who live outside the Beltway bubble. They’re not infected with the mentality that pervades so many agencies and departments. “The closest thing to eternal life on earth is a government program,” President Reagan once said. And how right he was.

You can find federal programs that do good, useful work. You can also find others that have far outlived their usefulness (if they ever had it to begin with), have overstepped their authority, or who spend too much doing their work in the most inefficient manner possible.

Of course, there’s nothing new about presidents promising reform or vowing to cut down on waste. If this new OMB initiative succeeds, I believe it will be because it was generated by a chief executive who actually knows something about the business world, where failure can’t be easily papered over with a new infusion of taxpayer dollars.

Even better, the OMB is actively seeking the views of those that the government purportedly serves: you, me and the rest of us. “The American people are encouraged to provide their input on how Washington, D.C., can best work for them,” the OMB announcement reads. The bureaucrats and politicians are making their voices heard, and their interests seldom align with ours. Now’s your chance to speak up.

It’s crucial that Trump undertake this initiative now, at the start of his administration, and just as Congress prepares to debate spending measures (and at some point soon take up his tax plan). Neither party has shown themselves to have the backbone to do more than pay lip service (if even that) to getting the federal budget under control.

“Policy changes can’t come from the bureaucracies themselves,” Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow Robert Rector, a veteran of many Capitol Hill policy battles, told The Daily Signal. “Policy change needs to come through Congress and comes when you bring outsiders in to impose reforms.”

Those “outsiders” don’t just include members of the current administration. They’re talking about all of us. So go to and tell the White House what matters to you and why. It might be your best opportunity, outside of a voting booth, to make a real difference in Washington.

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