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The Trump administration is expected to announce a sweeping plan to reshape the Executive branch this week -- mostly based on a blueprint from the Heritage Foundation and other rightwing think tanks -- to make it easier to isolate and eliminate parts of the government that conservatives don't like. The centerpiece is a proposal to merge the Labor and Education departments to eliminate supposed overlap between the two, because really, isn't all education simply a matter of job training anyway? Trump is already convinced that "community college" is just a fancy euphemism for vocational education, no matter how many times educators try to correct him, so there's a certain warped logic to that.


The government overhaul proposal is the brainchild of Office of Management and Budget head Mick Mulvaney, who reportedly hopes to streamline targets of conservative ire into a single bathtub and drown them, according to the New York Times:

The plan, which will most likely face significant opposition in Congress from Democrats and some Republicans, includes relocating many social safety net programs into a new megadepartment, which would replace the Department of Health and Human Services and possibly include the word "welfare" in its title.

Mr. Trump and his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, the architect of the plan, have sought to redefine as welfare subsistence benefit programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and housing aid. It is part of a rebranding effort, championed by conservative think tanks and House Republicans, to link them to unpopular direct-cash assistance programs that have traditionally been called welfare.

Since the very few programs that were traditionally called "welfare" have already been cut to the bone, it's vital for conservatives to lump all sorts of other safety net programs into that despised category, the better to kill them, too. Administration sources told the Times the combined remnants of the Labor and Education departments might be a standalone agency, or could be wedged into the new Welfare Department Of Lazy Wasteful Takers. Such an approach would in part return part of the government to the good old days before Jimmy Carter broke the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare into HHS and the Education Department.

Eliminating the Education Department has been a rightwing wet dream since the Reagan administration, since conservatives believe having a separate agency for Education gives too much power to teachers' unions, known hotbeds of communism. Combining Education with Labor and then lumping them both under the category of "welfare" would target all sorts of troublesome union-supported birds with a heavy budget-slashing stone, making America free again.

Besides, there's just so much overlap between existing programs, like administering student loans and, say, tracking employment and other labor statistics. Let's hand all that off to the department that already runs the Centers for Disease Control, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (and migrant-baby prisons), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It's such an obvious fit, because Republicans hate paying for ANY of that stuff.

Mulvaney's reorganization dream wouldn't just move SNAP from Agriculture into the new Unnecessary and Wasteful Welfare Programs Department; it would also strip Agriculture of nutrition education and school lunch programs, which is just one reason why the moves aren't likely to be approved by Congress, as Politico points out:

Moving the food stamp program from USDA to HHS, for example, would be a huge blow to USDA's reach and budget -- something that's not likely to go over well with farm-state lawmakers, in particular. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as its formally known, represents roughly three quarters of USDA's budget.

House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway said late Wednesday he would keep an open mind when reading the White House reorganization report, but he's not wild about making HHS, which already oversees some $1 trillion in spending, even bigger.

Conaway said the proposal to consolidate despised programs in a single despised department risked "making monster agencies even bigger." Apparently no one explained to him that the new department could then be squeezed for every possible penny because it would have "Welfare" in its name.

The Washington Post reports the Office of Personnel Management, which currently handles background checks for government employees, would be gutted, and responsibility for all background checks would be handed off to the Defense Department, which apparently isn't busy with anything else. Good luck getting any FOIA requests on administration hires -- no more embarrassing information about spouse abuse or conflicts of interest, because background checks are now a matter of national security.

Yr Wonkette is just surprised Trump hasn't (yet) handed off the Census to ICE, for the sake of more efficiently deporting Those People.

As virtually every report on the reorganization proposal points out, any major reshaping of the government would have to be approved by Congress, and in an election year, that seems nigh UNPOSSIBLE. WaPo acknowledged the proposal seemed likely to go nowhere, then added,

But the strategies could serve to better frame Trump's vision of government amid complaints from conservatives about the growing budget deficit. The president has not advocated for specific changes to agencies' structures, although his supporters often gripe about what they believe is a "deep state" of entrenched federal workers that they want removed.

Hahaha -- "Trump's vision of government." That's actually going to be handled by the new Department Of Trump Financial Enhancement.

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[Politico / NYT / WaPo / Education Week / Image by Gage Skidmore at Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0 license]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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