Members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee did something last week of immense importance to America's future, yet odds are that hardly anybody outside of the nation's capital noticed.
The committee, which is chaired by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., applied some good old-fashioned American common sense to a problem that Congress has seemed powerless to overcome for decades.
The problem is duplicative, wasteful, ineffective federal programs. As Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and others have documented repeatedly, the federal government often has 25, 30, sometimes even 50 or more programs devoted to the same purpose.
Instead of getting rid of those that don't work, Washington's career politicians keep piling on more programs and borrowing more money from China to pay the bureaucrats who run those programs.
That's not what Kline's committee did: It approved the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-Va., Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., on a 23-15 vote.
The WIIA terminates 37 ineffective programs, including 29 the Government Accountability Office said either overlapped or provided redundant services, and replaces them with one, which puts state and local authorities and employers in charge of job training within their jurisdictions.
Read that again: replaces 37 bad programs with one and puts the people closest to the problem in charge of solving it. That shouldn't be news, but it is because the federal government has become all but unmanageable.
It's certainly become "unmanageable for one man," Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told The Washington Examiner on Tuesday, adding that "it becomes incredibly difficult for Congress to have proper oversight. That's why it is critical to restore constitutionally limited government."
To grasp just how much Washington has grown in the past decade, take a look at an article in yesterday's edition of the Wall Street Journal by Stephen Moore and economist Arthur Laffer.
They included a chart showing federal spending as a percentage of gross domestic product soared from 19 percent in 2000 at the end of the Clinton administration to nearly 28 percent in the second year of the Obama administration.
"It was the largest peacetime expansion of government spending in U.S. history," Moore and Laffer wrote of the decade.
Spending leveled off after the Tea Party revolt of 2010 put Republicans back in charge of the House of Representatives on a platform that promised at least $100 billion in spending cuts.
But you would never know about their promise, judging by how a bunch of them voted last week. As RedState.com's Erick Erickson points out, a coalition of House GOPers and Democrats defeated eight amendments to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act last week that would have cut billions of dollars from the federal budget, including:
• Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. - Cuts the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program by $1.45 billion. Rejected 113-275.
• Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah - Cuts the Advanced Manufacturing Program by $74 million, to fiscal 2011 levels. Rejected 140-245.
• McClintock - Eliminates nuclear energy research subsidies (saves $514 million). Rejected 106-281.
• Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio - Eliminates funding for the regional commissions, such as the Appalachian Regional Commission (saves $99.3 million). Rejected 141-276.
• Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. - Cuts 1 percent across the board (would cut $321 million). Rejected 157-261.
• Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. - Brings the bill toward Republican Study Committee budget levels by cutting a total of $3.1 billion across almost all accounts. Rejected 125-293.
• Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa - Prohibits funding of Davis-Bacon union wage requirements. Rejected 184-235.
• Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. - Across the board spending cut that would keep funding at FY 2012 levels ($87.5 million savings). Rejected 144-274.
Note that Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Kline voted for seven of those eight amendments (he opposed McClintock's amendment to kill nuclear energy research subsidies).
Which ought to raise a question: What does Kline know that so many of his fellow House Republicans either don't know or choose to ignore?