Ahead of State of the Union, Obama Proposes New “Super Commerce” Department

Monday, January 16, 2012
Providing a glimpse into themes that may animate his third State of the Union Address and 2012 re-election campaign, President Obama announced January 13 that he wants to re-organize the federal bureaucracy to increase its effectiveness and cut costs. To do that, Obama is urging legislation to return to the days (1932 to 1984) when Presidents could re-organize the government subject only to an up or down vote in Congress.
 
Obama seeks to establish a new, Cabinet-level department charged with overseeing business and trade, which would include at least two agencies now in the Commerce Department (Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis), four independent agencies (Small Business Administration (SBA), Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corp., Trade and Development Agency), one White House agency (Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)) and one agency from the Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The plan would make government more efficient, according to the President, by creating “one department where entrepreneurs can go from the day they come up with an idea and need a patent…to the day they’re ready to export and need help breaking into new markets overseas.” Obama argued that his plan would also cut 1,000 government jobs and save $3 billion over 10 years.
 
Some interest groups have responded critically, as large exporters worry that folding the USTR into the new agency would reduce its clout, while Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association, fears the SBA might be less responsive. Environmental groups object to the proposal to move the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including the National Weather Service and related agencies, to the Interior Department, whose mission of promoting resource extraction they perceive as potentially inconsistent with the agency that handles global warming.
-Matt Bewig
 
White House Seeks to Merge Agencies (by Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal)
Obama Seeks More Power to Merge Agencies, Streamline Government (by Lisa Rein and Paul Kane, Washington Post)
Obama Bid to Cut the Government Tests Congress (by Mark Landler and Annie Lowrey, New York Times) 

Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue (United States Government Accountability Office) (pdf) 

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