Republicans Call for More Federal Government, and Other News From the Campaign Trail

Republican presidential contender Ohio Gov. John Kasich called for a new agency to promote “Judeo-Christian Western values” abroad. Republican presidential contender Ohio Gov. John Kasich called for a new agency to promote “Judeo-Christian Western values” abroad. Carolyn Kaster/AP

In the Republican presidential primary, most candidates have focused their federal government reform efforts on which agencies they would cut. One 2016 hopeful, however, has come out in favor of creating a new one.

In a speech delivered in Washington, D.C., this week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he would launch a new agency to promote “Judeo-Christian Western values” abroad. The agency would focus on broadcasting in Russia, China and the Middle East, he said.

Voice of America, operating under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, is currently tasked with broadcasting messages of the U.S. government abroad. Kasich argued VOA is not getting the job done, however.  

"U.S. public diplomacy and international broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents' propaganda and disinformation,” Kasich said. “I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core, Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association."

The former House Budget Committee Chairman made clear to NBC News he was not promoting a larger federal government in general.

“There's nobody who's spent more time shrinking government and cutting budgets than I have,” Kasich said.

Not all of Kasich’s primary opponents thought the governor’s proposal was a good one; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the program would be similar to the Crusades.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump also came out in support of more government bureaucracy, saying on Thursday he would “absolutely” create a registry of Muslims in the United States. While the program seems like an impractical undertaking, Trump said he could accomplish it by improving federal management.

“It’s all about management,” Trump said. “Our country has no management.’’

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has surged in recent polls, also announced a plan to give federal agencies more oversight. Cruz introduced a bill in Congress this week to prohibit any refugees coming from countries with a large terrorist presence -- such as Syria -- from entering the United States, unless they were members of a group that was victim to genocide. The measure would require the departments of Homeland Security and State, as well as the FBI and the intelligence community to ensure the “refugee’s story is corroborated.” That task would be in addition to the screening and resettlement responsibilities the agencies currently hold.  

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., got in on calling for more federal government this week as well. The lawmaker, who has in recent weeks garnered headlines for his senatorial absence, signed on to a bill to expand the powers of the National Security Agency. Rubio announced his support for the Liberty Through Strength Act, which would postpone a law that will partially rein in of some of NSA’s most controversial programs. 

Of course, the most aggressive and passionate defender of the federal government’s role is found in the Democratic race in Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Sanders gave a speech in defense of Democratic Socialism this week, during which he extolled the government’s power to help people and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s role in realizing that capability.

“Against the ferocious opposition of the ruling class of his day, people he called economic royalists, Roosevelt implemented a series of programs that put millions of people back to work, took them out of poverty and restored their faith in government,” Sanders said in a call for a renewed set of federal programs today. “He redefined the relationship of the federal government to the people of our country.”

Not everyone spent the week demonstrating the merits of federal government, however; Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took issue with a National Institutes of Health grant researching balding patterns. As part of an ongoing series in which he points out the questionable expenditure of federal dollars, Paul identified as wasteful a $15,000 grant to a conference studying topics like “growing better hair” and “robotic hair transplants.”

“Some may argue that with a $3.7 trillion budget and hundreds of millions of dollars of waste already identified in The Waste Report, $15,000 is not that bad,” Paul wrote. “But consider the average American would have to work two years, two months, and almost two weeks before their taxes would pay this grant. That’s enough to make you pull your hair out.”

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