News & Politics

The White House Will Let You Vote to Eliminate the White House

20th Century Fox.

Following the 14-page memo White House budget director Mick Mulvaney sent federal agencies on Wednesday, asking them to submit plans for drastic downsizing, the Trump Administration followed up by launching a website asking for the public’s input on government reorganization.

“If you’ve ever had any experience with the federal government, if you have any good stories or bad stories about how the federal government has served you or failed to serve you, or just ideas that you might have generally about how we can fix things, this,” Mulvaney—pointing to a large stack of papers meant to represent federal regulations—says in an accompany video, “needs to be fixed.”

Then comes the White House’s big survey, which comes in two parts. The first asks people which agencies they’d like to see reformed, while the second asks which government functions they’d like to see eliminated wholesale. Presumably, President Trump and his administration are expecting many users to click on longtime Republican punching bags like the Internal Revenue Service or Environmental Protection Agency. But either in a show of good faith or because somebody in Mulvaney’s office copied and pasted a list, seemingly every government office is up for review—including the White House itself.

To be sure, the White House’s operating budget is a puny slice of overall government funding. Former President Barack Obama‘s budget staff requested about $755 million to fund the Executive Office of the President during the 2016 fiscal year, or about two ten-thousandths of one percent of the $3.95 trillion spent last year.

Still, the draft budget proposal Trump’s White House released last month calls for deep cuts throughout the federal bureaucracy, and you’ve gotta start somewhere. The cuts Mulvaney and company have proposed could precipitate a recession throughout the Washington region. That may satisfy Trump and his fans, but in an age of populism, it seems far more prudent to wipe out, say, the residence and office of a president with a 54 percent disapproval rating. If you’re going to drain the swamp, might as well go for the head swamp monster.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.