A palate cleanser with some conservative appeal from an unlikely source in Vox. Relocating federal agencies to middle America has some support, unsurprisingly, among Democrats from middle America but it’s also gotten a thumbs up from at least one big-name Republican. In January, House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz called for draining the swamp by dispersing key parts of it around the country:
“I do believe conceptually in my heart that if you want a government that is reflective of the people, they need to be closer to the people,” he said during the hearing. “What would it look like if the Department of Agriculture was maybe based in Oklahoma?” he said. “What if we had a Department of the Interior that was based in Utah or Colorado? What if the Department of Transportation was based in Los Angeles, for instance?”…
While it makes sense for security agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, to remain in the District, rank-and-file bureaucrats do not need to live in the nation’s capitol, Chaffetz said.
If you worry that the feds are too disconnected from “real America,” there’s a solution: Pack ’em up and move ’em to real America. Key agencies that need regular contact with the president and Congress would stay put, everyone else could be scattered to the winds. We live in a glorious age of ubiquitous webcams and smartphones. Virtual meetings shouldn’t be hard to arrange among far-flung bureaucrats. Lots of benefits to this idea — a less myopic federal government, a shot in the arm economically for middle-American cities that are struggling, and a body blow to the D.C. region that’s grown scandalously rich off of its proximity to Uncle Sam.
The only wrinkle is, er, making a bunch of crucial swing states suddenly much more dependent on big government in terms of federal jobs and the knock-on economic effects of hosting a major U.S. agency. What a coincidence that Vox would warm to this idea of transplanting bureaucrats to states like Ohio and Michigan after they helped deliver the presidency to Trump over Clinton. Are conservatives willing to accept thousands of new purple-state Democratic votes in the name of decentralizing our centralized government by moving parts of it to the heartland?