I’m confused. I know the United States and Russia present starkly different economic systems. Faced with crushing recessions and government debt, they’re pursuing dramatically diverging paths. But in the Alice-in-Wonderland world we’ve inhabited for the last few years, Russia is the country that’s downsizing its national bureaucracy while the U.S. is dramatically expanding ours.
Russia has announced it will slash its bureaucracy by 5 percent this year and 20 percent by 2013, with 174,000 government workers slated to lose their jobs. The administrative bloat is “ineffective,” declared Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and threatens to “swallow society whole.”
While Russia is curbing the bureaucracy’s appetite, the U.S. is stoking it. The federal health care bill alone creates between 47 and 160 new agencies and offices. The actual number, says the Congressional Research Service, is “unknowable.” That does not count the 16,500 new Internal Revenue Service agents who will be hired under the law to enforce its tax-related provisions. Combine that with the many czars and their minions added to the federal payroll since last year, and you have some idea of the Obama administration’s real recipe for job creation.
No wonder Russia’s debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is shrinking while ours is growing alarmingly.
Who knew that some American politicians have been eyeing the Russian bureaucratic model, not with disdain but with envy? With Washington, D.C. completely out of control, it’s time for the states to take matters into our own hands. A constitutional amendment requiring approval of the states to raise the national debt might be a nifty place to start.
Clink Bolick is director of the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.
Goldwater Institute: Amending the Constitution by Convention: A Complete View of the Founder’s Plan
Associated Press: Russia’s Prime Minister Putin pledges to tackle bureaucracy
Congressional Research Service: New Entities Created Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Restoring Freedom: The Missing Amendment