To be fair, the real money spent by the federal government isn’t necessarily on staff or weekend “conferences” in Vegas or lots of the other things we often complain about – the real money is on programs the president-elect hasn’t shown a lot of interest in cutting, like Social Security and Medicare.
That said, you will find absolutely no one who believes the federal government doesn’t waste money hand over fist. And you will find absolutely no one who believes the federal government isn’t overstaffed with lots of people who play computer solitaire all day. Everyone knows this and nobody does anything about it.
Except until Donald Trump came along? Could this be real?
Making good on a promise to slash government, President-elect Trump has asked his incoming team to pursue spending and staffing cuts.
Insiders said that the spending reductions in some departments could go as high as 10 percent and staff cuts to 20 percent, numbers that would rock Washington if he follows through.
At least two so-called “landing teams” in Cabinet agencies have relayed the call for cuts as part of their marching orders to shrink the flab in government.
The cuts would target discretionary spending, not mandated programs such as Medicare or Social Security, the sources said.
The spending reductions are expected to be used to help pay for Trump’s plan to boost the Pentagon’s budget, tax cuts and some pet projects, potentially including the anti-immigration wall on the nation’s southern border.
The teams also are looking at staffing cuts over four years through attrition, a hiring freeze and reorganization.
The plan is winning cheers in conservative, anti-tax and anti-spending corners in Washington that have long sought massive cuts in the bureaucracy.
Mick Mulvaney, the South Carolina congressman known as a hard-line budget hawk, is the president-elect’s nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney gives not one fig for the plight of federal employees. Here’s video of Mulvaney talking to somebody in Human Resources at the Department of Homeland Security, and he’s pretty blunt about saying the place sucks and somebody ought to be accountable for it…
And here is Mulvaney having a go at then-OMB director Jeffrey Zients in 2012 at a congressional oversight committee hearing…
Shedding federal workers can be done with no diminution in the quality of service rendered to the public, though the Washington economy would probably suffer. Nobody outside the Beltway will give a damn about that. In fact, it will be interesting to see if Mulvaney might experiment with the idea of letting members of the public process federal paperwork on a piecework basis as has been discussed in a number of venues; a lot of the paper the government pushes doesn’t require unionized bureaucrats with full-time salaries and could easily be done on a work-from-home basis, particularly given how many people are available who could use extra cash and have a few hours in the day available to process various government forms and files.
That doesn’t count how many things the government has a staff of bureaucrats doing which could be accomplished via an app.
You can bet that the Democrats and particularly the federal employee unions will go absolutely nuts over the idea of 20 percent staff cuts. But nobody outside of their clubhouse ought to be too concerned about that. In fact, SEIU taking a 30 percent haircut to its own budget sounds like Trump is already making America great again.
“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions. These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry in staff message dated Dec. 14, according to Bloomberg. The tough decisions include a 10 percent budget cut starting in January and an additional 20 percent cut starting in 2018.
SEIU was a major supporter of the Democrats in the last election, spending $21.6 million to help elect them, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The union had high hopes that a win by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Democratic gains in Congress would cement efforts by the Obama administration to aid union organizing, boosting the movement’s sagging numbers and treasuries.
Cutting federal staff by 20 percent is the gift that keeps on giving because not only does it trim the federal budget, though perhaps not by as much as we’d like to see in an idea world, but it cuts the gross amount of union dues those federal employees pay – and since public employee union dues are spent in massive numbers nearly exclusively on Democrat politics, those staff cuts results in a haircut the Democrat Party will take.
This is the kind of thing that will make Trump a hero to conservatives who never, ever expected to like him. One place they’d better not cut staff, though, is the Secret Service. If anything, Trump will need a lot more bodyguards to keep him alive through his first term if this plan becomes reality.