Big Government and Campaign Politics

Archive Report

Issue Over Federal Pay and Jobs

Political Campaign Attacks on Big Bureaucracy

The size of the federal bureaucracy is a perennial target of public and political criticism. And this year's presidential campaign has provided a national forum for that criticism. “Our government in Washington now is a horrible bureaucratic mess,” Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter has said. “It is disorganized, wasteful, has no purpose; and its policies—when they exist—are incomprehensible or devised by special interest groups with little regard for the welfare of the average American citizen.” Carter has promised to pare some 1,900 federal agencies down to about 200. He has also recommended the use of “zero-based” budgeting—a procedure to encourage lawmakers to question the value of existing programs by asking what would happen if ...

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