Reforms in the Carter Years
No analysis of the Carter administration would be complete without some reference to the other pledges Carter made during and after the campaign. Some of the economic elements have already been examined -- the economic stimulus package, an energy plan, and the plan to balance the budget by 1981. But recall that Carter also pledged to make government run more efficiently largely through reorganization, to revamp the budget-making process of the federal government by employing a zero-budgeting technique, to reform the welfare mess, and to reduce government intrusion in the economy by eliminating unnecessary regulations. Before summarizing the economic accomplishments of the Carter administration, we will examine its performance in these areas as well.
Of course, every administration takes office promising to reform government operations, reduce the size of the bureaucracy, and in general make the government run more efficiently. The results of such promises have not inspired confidence in such intentions, and more often than not, government operations carry on as before, and the bureaucracy expands. Therefore, Carter's pledges would normally invite cynicism and be dismissed as just another example of political hyperbole. Yet, Carter was different in the sense that he ran as a Washington outsider with a very definite promise to clean up the mess there as he had done in Georgia. Appealing to his past record in these matters offered him some allowances that others would not have received. In a speech at the National Governors Conference in 1974, he maintained that Georgia had "reduced the number of state agencies from about 300 to 22 major operating agencies and combined functions to eliminate duplication and overlapping of services." 1