“Eliminating waste and controlling government spending is best accomplished by reducing the size and scope of government,” Heritage Foundation economist Romina Boccia argues in a new report.

She explains:

The federal government does too many things that would be done better by individuals and organizations in the private sector, or by state and local governments, or that should not be done at all. A smaller, more limited federal government would focus on providing essential public services, legal services, and a basic social safety net, and would otherwise leave individuals free to determine their own affairs to the maximum extent possible in the defense of liberty.

Congress should take the following six steps to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, Boccia writes:

  1. Refocus entitlement programs and end government provision where feasible
  2. Reform welfare programs
  3. End corporate welfare
  4. Eliminate waste, duplication, and inappropriate federal spending
  5. Enact and enforce firm spending caps
  6. Uphold the earmark ban

Do you agree with Boccia that we should reduce the size and scope of the federal government? How would you accomplish this? Tell us in the comments.

Comments (47)

Mary Rains - October 22, 2014

Revive a commission like the Grace Commission.
Eliminate governmental agencies in order to follow the intent of the U.S. Constitution.
Eliminate crony capitalism.
Stop feathering the beds of liberal institutions of higher education with financial aid – it should be limited to the truly poor and used only for community colleges.

Rich - October 23, 2014

Change election day to April 15

Newsel - October 23, 2014

You need to add the 4 additional priority points as described by Cruz in his “10 Priority” USToday OpEd….

Don Volz - October 23, 2014

Downsize or eliminate government agencies engaged in activities outside the Constitutional scope of the federal gov’t. High on the list should be Education, Energy, and the EPA.

Also move to a much simpler and flatter tax system that could reduce the IRS by at least 90%.

Sallie Barreca - October 23, 2014

We must go to the source. The best teacher is our Constitution and Bill of Rights, to be taught in our nation’s schools. Big Government Socialist ideas have poisoned our Social Studies Curriculum. This must stop. Teach the truth about our founders and their fight for liberty from Big Government which becomes corrupt. Also our elected candidates to public office must teach and firmly stand for these principles.

Mike Budnick - October 23, 2014

I believe that the the bloated and highly restrictive federal departments of energy, education, labor, and environment should be eliminated. I also believe that the Dept. of Homeland Security should be eliminated and that the underlying departments (CIA, NSA, FBI, etc.) should be reconstituted to eliminate the reasons leading to the creation of DHS. Finally, I believe that the Federal Reserve should either be eliminated or forced to actually comply with congressional oversight.

David Neill - October 23, 2014

Reform the income tax to a national sales tax or at least a simple flat tax to eliminate or greatly reduce the size and scope of the IRS. Eliminate the dept of education, the dept of Energy, and any other not outlined in the Constitution. Reform social security to meet today’s realities. I’m sure we could find some military cuts too. How long to we need to keep troops in South Korea?

Rick Nadler - October 23, 2014

It would be refreshing if the Federal Government actually had some control over personnel policies rather than the unions dictating them. It would also be appropriate for federal employees to be compensated and receive benefits that are more in line with those received in the private sector for similar occupations.

Leslie Gregg - October 23, 2014

Government should be reduced first by identifying all federal agencies that are not called out in the Constitution and then developing a plan to gradually close them down, while assisting the employees with placement elsewhere. These functions should be returned to the fifty States. The next step would be to estimate the amount of fraud and waste in the remaining agencies and cut their budgets by this amount, so they are motivated to do business smarter.

Lonnie Woods - October 23, 2014

The Federal Government is a monster and taking away our freedom as fast as they can. My biggest worry is the stupidity of the American voter.

Rose - October 23, 2014

Absolutely! I agree that we should get America back to using our people’s initiatives and regain the strength and a successes we had before BIG governement moved in and
began draining them away with entitlements and regulations.

Suzanne McMains - October 23, 2014

About 85% of the federal government consists of elements not mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Phase ALL of those out; direct Congress to maximize the efficiency of its limited mandates and then spend less time in Washington, D.C. in session; institute term limits for all federal elected positions; limit all federal judicial appointments to include Supreme Court appointments to a fixed number of years; repeal 16th and 17th Amendments; turn all federal lands not currently required for military facilities over to the individual states for administration.

jeffrey b walker - October 23, 2014

the sole purpose of the federal government should be the the protection of its citizens and all other things pertinent to the people should be left to localities.

Iky Akers - October 23, 2014

God Bless YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!

Rachel Verdon - October 23, 2014

Nathan ward sort of danced around the issue of cutting waste with option #1: “1.Refocus entitlement programs and end government provision where feasible.”

Let’s get to the point.
1) PRIVATIZE the ENTIRE Health Department, including the Entitlements. HHS usurps H*A*L*F of all tax money annually, not Defense, not National Security, nor Welfare, Education, or any other giant government bureaucracy.

2) Auction off all these government bureaucracies, abolish the Federal Reserve Board and Banks to shut down the INFLATION Machine. I don’t know about you, but I am a tired worker, fed up because the buying power of my dollar being is devalued all awhile this Leftwing Progressive government since Woodrow Wilson has propped up every despot and communist dictator on earth with MY LABOR.

Again, I ask you: If we double our production, should not the Federal Reserve print double the amount of dollar bills? What happens when they print four times as much and disburse it throughout the Ex-Im-Bank, or the world Bank, or the International Monetary Fund, or OPIC?

Who ever controls the money controls the company.

Arlene J Alam - October 23, 2014

The federal government exceeds its Constitutional duties and agencies added over time duplicate functions and increase intrusion into citizen’s lives.
I would eliminate the IRS, EPA, Energy Dept and Homeland Security. Each was formed for one purpose, have not achieved that purpose and therefore should not exist as they are. The departments in Homeland security were pulled together to work better together; but they don’t – work better together.

Bob - October 23, 2014

Of course Boccia is right but I would tweak her ideas a little. Number one the primary reason it is a bad idea to have government doing the work of the state or private sector is that there are no checks and balances where the feds are concerned. Sure there are oversight committees or institutions but all these really amount to is self regulation. We are all painfully aware the government is incapable of self regulation. As hesitant as I am to applaud government regulation it is far better than relying on the government to regulate itself.
Number two entitlement reform, I am all for it but I part company with many in that I do believe that persons who have been forced to pay into retirement and old age healthcare programs their whole working life are in fact entitled to health care and retirement whether it is called Medicare or Social Security is of no importance to me. I am a boomer. The boomers were told that if we, our parents and our children paid in just a little more then we could avoid a crisis down the road. We have all paid in the extra and the government has seen fit to waste all the money meant for the SS trust fund. Another fine example of self regulation. Our leaders lied to us and cheated us that is not our problem, we paid the extra now it is time to pony up and stand by your word. Do I think Medicare and SS are the right programs for America? No, but it is what I was forced to pay into therefore I intend to take full advantage of it as I should. Both of them are little more than ponzi schemes. I do believe all Americans should be forced to save for their retirement and healthcare in old age. A forced privatized system would be ideal then I could retire at what ever age or time in my life I personally chose within reason. There is absolutely no reason for the government to tell me when I can do such things.
Number three spending caps and earmarks are useless for the most part again because the government self regulates, there is no penalty when they don’t follow their own rules. Balanced budgets are what is important, by that I mean departmental budgets. If any department goes over their budget that department must be punished by that I mean given even less money the next year. Any department staying within their budget would be eligible for an even bigger budget the next year. There would of course have to be some exceptions in national emergencies but those exception should only be temporary if its not temporary then it ceases to be an emergency or an exception.
Number four, corporate welfare should not only be abolished but so should tax incentives and other privileges extended to government cronies or powerful corporations. Everyone should be expected to pay the same taxes, follow the same regulations and suffer the same penalties if they don’t no exceptions. I have little to no faith in government big or small but neither do I think that corporate America has my best interests in mind when it comes to their bottom line. At least they must answer to their customers and government regulation unlike the government which has shown us time after time that they answer to no one.

Donald J Evans - October 23, 2014

1.In addition to the six items – put an immediate hiring freeze on all fed workforce for two full years or more.

2. limit fed restriction regs prior to going into effect-we are over-regulated
3. require sunset provisions on all fed regs
4. ship all goofy fed reg promoters to a warehouse-they are dangerous inplace.

Marion Daniels-Price - October 23, 2014

I totally agree, but especially with number 4. With the alphabet soup of agencies in DC, there has got to be massive duplication of effort. A team of forensic accountants should descend upon DC to audit all the agencies to identify the duplication, merge the agencies that can be merged, downsize the agencies that have much fewer responsibilities now that the duplication has been eliminated, and eliminate the ones that are no longer needed. No politicians should be involved in the process. Politicians are the ones who got us in this mess in the first place.

Robert Roark - October 23, 2014

The size and scope of the federal government will not be seriously affected by simply modifying the programs conducted by the Executive Branch. It requires the elimination of seven departments and major revision to the functions of three other departments. For elimination, I recommend Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing & Urban Development, Labor, and Transportation. I recommend significant revisions to the functions of Health and Human Services and Interior. I would also eliminate FEMA, the Fed, and the IRS.

N Misasi - October 24, 2014

Romina Boccia seems to have hit on some of the many areas/programs the Federal Government could and should cut, immediately.
Government never has a problem growing in size and programs but never can pull in their belt and cut anything. Stuck on the thinking “if it was good yesterday it has to be good today.” No business would ever ignore their expense lines in a budget, they would trim those expenses and spending each and every year. Cutting the things not needed, not long profitable or necessary. Why can’t government… It is all about “bringing home the pork” to their districts or states for the politicians by deceiving the voters with myths.
I think the American people need to realize this can’t continue if they want America and its security, freedoms and liberty to continue. Why would any American wish to be like the third world countries? I don’t believe they do!
I’d add to this list eliminating the IRS, going to a Fair or Flat Tax program. Voters would have to approve any changes to whichever program was implemented, not politicians. If “real cost to each individual” were honestly given with each program before they are voted on many of the repetitious and wasteful programs would never have been approved. One big example is Obama Care. If the American people were told the truth, not the lies, the politicians would not have voted for it at all. We still do not know the true cost of Obama Care because of all the hidden deals, waivers and such given to buy votes !
Eliminating the Departments of Education, EPA, Interior and many others. America would be better served to allow the local and States to oversee these areas not some “big spender” in DC.
Thanks for the great insight!

Caroline Woodis - October 24, 2014

Yes , I strongly believe the federal government needs to cut back on spending; and the fastest and most effective way to do this is to cut way back on the size of the government. This, in combination with term limits, will also reduce wasteful spending and corruption.

sam clarke - October 24, 2014

Institutionalize a system for the elimination of dysfunctional, obsolete, and ineffective laws and regulations. Congressional and legislative oversight is insufficient.

Bruce Storrs - October 24, 2014

Can you be specific when using your six step plan to reduce the size and scope of government? Show me exactly what you would eliminate, end, reform, and enforce.
Thank You

Nan Glasgow - October 24, 2014

Nearly everyone knows and likes someone who is gay. I realize some are pushy and extremist but there are many who are regular law-abiding citizens who would vote Republican.

The Republicans are doing themselves no favors by taking a stance against them. I believe it is costing them votes.

J. R. Bennett - October 24, 2014

My thought is to return in earnest to Article One Section eight of the U. S. Constitution, as envisioned by the Founders, and begin to implement legislation to repeal all federal intrusion (legislation) that is not deliniated as specifically assigned to the federal apparatus. Some suggested starting points: The ACA (Obamacare), the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, Dodd Frank Act, Dept of Health and Human Services, Dept of Education, Dept of Agriculture, Dept of the Interior, anyone with a bit of Constitutional understanding can increase the list.

Support the Fair Tax (H.R. 25) to end the IRS and repeal the sixteenth amendment and rid the USA of insane tax rules.

kate barnett - October 24, 2014

I agree with the 6 points to reduce government spending. Add number 7: Eliminate foreign aid.

Reagan Yellock - October 24, 2014

1. Drastically reduce or eliminate all government agencies. They are many times redundant to state agencies.
2. After a twenty year career in the USAF, I worked at the EPA (under the stimulus program) as an auditor. After creating my auditing plan, the CFO (a HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE!) would not let me conduct my audit, leaving me to spend my time twiddling my thumbs. Most employees spent their days surfing the internet, or talking with their friends on the phone. The ones who did work, did menial “busy work” tasks, while collecting huge salaries. I could go on but I won’t. Let’s just say fraud, waste, and abuse is in abundance. I worked as a contractor for GSA and it was the same.

Betty - October 24, 2014

I agree with the comments made by Robert Roark.
In addition I would require a balanced budget and the federal deficit retired in ten years.

Rick Homan - October 24, 2014

The six steps are spot on. The problem is the federal bureaucracy will never take action to limit itself. Just look at the past couple of decades. Government has continued to grow and expanded into almost every aspect of our lives. Our liberty continues to shrink.
The only real solution is a US Constitution Article V Convention of States to propose only amendments that would impose fiscal restraints, limit its power and jurisdiction and impose term limits on its officials and members of Congress.

Leroy Pendergraft - October 24, 2014

Fed. gov. should provide national security, by all means, Ebola, the border, terrorist, ect., other than that, each state in competition with other states, control their own well being, security, education, health, research, gov., jobs & workers, balance their budget, flat taxes, or less burden on the people and labor providers,control their own environment, and welfare. Then a national flat tax for the fed. gov., mainly for security. No Fed. Healthcare, No IRS, must have a plan to balance budget, allow us to tap our natural resources, to create jobs. The more workers, less national welfare, and more workers, means more paid flat taxes. We need to do all this and more to strengthen the dollar and its buying power. We need to uphold a Bill of Rights Constitutional Federal and State Government, or face criminal charges, this is the only way to govern ourselves, and not be a part of a social dictatorship. This would make America great again, as it is today I do not trust anyone in government, for they all seem to be out for their own hunger for power and far removed from the good of the people.

John E. Navarre, Jr. - October 24, 2014

Dominate world Oil in all aspects
Pass Fair Tax
Restore Military
Repeal base line budget
Repeal Obomacare
Pass balance budget and restrict spending to inflation

fred - October 24, 2014

I can’t add anything more to the great ideas already posted except to add term limits to our congress. Career politicians by intention have the wrong focus in a republic.

William Snedden Sr - October 24, 2014

The comments herein are superb! If some or all them are implemented we would have a better representation and fairer government at the Federal level.

Shelley Townley - October 24, 2014

Repeal the 17th amendment. This would return the power to the State legislators to appoint the Senators in each state. In so doing, the need for Senators to raise huge amount of cash from crony Capitalists to pay for election campaigns would be eliminated.

This action would also return the Senators loyalties to the people of the State that they represent. I suspect the Senators would be less inclined to vote to give huge amounts of power (and land) to the Federal Bureaucracies and more inclined to retain the power in their own states.

Henry visser - October 25, 2014


Janelle Lysenko - October 25, 2014

I agree with Heritage’s six suggestions for congress. They are important priorities. Thank you Heritage!

Jack Bridge - October 25, 2014

I agree with all 6 of the actions, and it has to start soon or we will broke as a country.

Robert Seklemian - October 25, 2014

I strongly agree that government should be reduced in size and scope in order to restore a vibrant economy and the free market system that brought to much to so many. However, we are far too deep into socialism for this to ever happen without a revolution.

Charles R Wright - October 25, 2014

The Federal Government should, (1) guard the shores (and borders)-that’s in the constitution, (2) deliver the mail, (3) regular. interstate commerce between states-that’s in the constitution also, and finally (4) “stay the heck out of our lives and our pockets.”-that’s in the constitution too.

Vondell Hass - October 27, 2014

Yes, please reduce the size of government. It is inefficient due to using other people’s money and not having to be accountable to anyone or efficient and profitable. It also grows bigger and bigger to give more power to persons in government. This causes them to create paid positions paid by the taxpayers for their friends and those who will help them get re elected. Big government causes more spending and more power to those who have not the expertise to manage anything. Let private enterprise and the free markets determine what the citizens want according to supply and demand
That has caused America to become a super power. Now, under the Marxist Obama Regime we have and are slipping down in every area except growth in government, agencies, bureaucracies. This causes loss of LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS by individual citizens.

Crazy Eddy - October 30, 2014

Any attempt to reduce the size or scope of the federal, now national, government is doomed to failure. No federal employee will vote to reduce or eliminate his or her source of income, nor will any professional politician actually risk his or her career by even attempting to eliminate any federal agency or department. A prime example of the futility of such attempts is the continued existence of both the USPS and the TVA, among others. Both of those agencies are used to reward supporters with plum appointments that carry no actual responsibility. Rather like being appointed Ebola czar, you know?

I consider myself and optimist but much as I want to believe that America’s citizens can be rescued from the clutches of the professional political class I remain convinced that the rescue will eventually require armed and violent revolution by those citizens.

ron mazzucchi - November 3, 2014


WAYNE ANDERSON - December 5, 2014


Henry Baker - February 10, 2016

Gut the fascist unconstitutional Environmental Protection Agency’s scope of authority down to nothing more than major U. S. rivers and minimal clean-air regulations.

jon - February 21, 2016

Heartily agree with Rich “Change election day to April 15” and, also, elect a new president who has a dog in the hunt (business person vs. politician)!

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