© Reuters. Republican U.S. presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visits the border community of Eagle Pass, Texas, U.S. June 26, 2023. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal
By Gram Slattery
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would seek to eliminate the Departments of Energy, Commerce and Education, as well as the Internal Revenue Service, if he were elected president, he suggested in a television interview on Wednesday.
“We would do Education, we would do Commerce, we’d do Energy, and we would do IRS,” he said, when asked by Fox News host Martha MacCallum whether he would cut any agencies while in office. “And so if Congress will work with me on doing that, we’ll be able to reduce the size and scope of government.”
Some high-ranking Republicans have called for those departments to be eliminated in the past. The Department of Education in particular has been a target for conservatives, and former President Donald Trump has also called for its abolition.
DeSantis’ embrace of eliminating major federal agencies early in the Republican presidential primary underlines the emphasis his campaign has put on radically downsizing the federal bureaucracy.
He frequently accuses broad swathes of the government of political bias against conservatives, and has promised sweeping personnel overhauls should he be elected. He had already come out in favor of abolishing the IRS.
The Florida governor has consistently trailed Trump in public opinion polls, but his level of support is higher than that of the rest of the Republican pack. About 43% of Republicans backed Trump in a June 9-12 Reuters/Ipsos poll, compared with 22% supporting DeSantis.