Department of Commerce
Congress should close the Department of Commerce and, in particular,
• make the Bureau of the Census a small, independent agency; • restrict the census to enumerating the population, make answering other census questions voluntary, bar statistical sampling, and scrub the planned annual American Community Survey; • make the Patent and Trademark Office a small, independent agency or self-financing government corporation; • eliminate programs that inhibit or subsidize trade; • end all Commerce Department corporate subsidies and wealth transfer programs, including the Economic Development Administration, the Minority Business Development Administration, and the Technology Administration; • eliminate the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; and • phase out the functions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, allowing them to be supplied by the private sector.
The Commerce Department, with 1999 expenditures of $5.46 billion, is a hodgepodge of programs that transfer taxpayers' dollars to special interests. Given its corporate pork flavor, it is hardly surprising that the department's late secretary Ron Brown made extensive trade junkets and promoted exports for companies whose executives were big contributors to the Democratic Party. Most of the department's operations should be discontinued as a way of cutting both bipartisan corporate welfare and political corruption. But Congress should not create the illusion of eliminating the department by transferring most of its operations to other departments or agencies while leaving those operations relatively intact. Most