In the Army we have an expression for an operation that is so big and unwieldy that it has no purpose other than perpetuating itself: “a self-licking ice cream cone.”
By way of Amanda Carpenter in Senator Jim DeMint’s office we discover that after some half century of hard work, federal housing programs have finally reached that state.
According to the GAO, the federal government runs 160 separate housing programs.
Where are they all?
Well, HUD runs the majority of the programs, 91. The United States Department of Agriculture, which also administers farming aid and the nation’s food stamp program, offers 18 different types of housing assistance as well. The Internal Revenue Service has 14 programs. The Department of Treasury offers 8 programs; the Department of Veterans Affairs 7; the Department of Labor 2; Federal Home Loan Banks 3.
Each of these programs has its own bureaucracy, its own advocates, and its own sub-bureaucracy at the state an local level. While they might actually produce something worthwhile, their main function is keeping the people who administer the programs employed.