Saturday, January 6, 2018

Civil Service Reform for the New Year

This editorial outlined a great reform package which President Trump could rely on for winning victory in 2018, an election year in which the Democrats must defend 23 seats, plus two more liberal-leaning independents.

I think there's a winning opportunity here, but there are some comments I would like to leave for this article, too!

A Big, Beautiful Trump 2018 Issue

President Trump is on the hunt for a 2018 issue—a strong follow-up to his tax-cut victory that will motivate voters and gain bipartisan support. Democrats are pushing for an infrastructure bill, inviting the president to spend with them. House GOP leaders are mulling entitlement reform—a noble goal, if unlikely in a midterm cycle.

President Trump already has a winning issue: illegal immigration.

We need to make security of our borders and the pre-eminence of American sovereignty our focus. We need to get rid of all illegal aliens and ensure that our country's government and tax dollars go toward the service of American citizens.

Fortunately for the president, there’s a better idea out there that’s already a Trump theme. It’s also a sure winner with the public, so Republicans ought to be able to pressure Democrats to join.

Let 2018 be the year of civil-service reform—a root-and-branch overhaul of the government itself. Call it Operation Drain the Swamp.

Indeed, draining the swamp is as easy as getting rid of all the rent seekers and big boondoggle leeches eating away at the federal treasury. 

When Candidate Trump first referred to “the swamp,” he was talking about the bog of Beltway lobbyists and “establishment” politicians. But President Trump’s first year in office has revealed that the real swamp is the unchecked power of those who actually run Washington: the two million members of the federal bureaucracy. That civil-servant corps was turbocharged by the Obama administration’s rule-making binge, and it now has more power—and more media enablers—than ever. We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.

Bureaucrats run for their own interest, and they have no incentive to serve the community, the public interest. They take up the best parking spots, they get the best perks, they take all the best offerings, and they don't think twice about the waste or prohibitive cost of government micromanaging.

It’s Lois Lerner, the IRS official who used her powers to silence conservative nonprofits. It’s the “anonymous” officials who leak national-security secrets daily. It’s the General Services Administration officials who turned over Trump transition emails to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the absence of a warrant. It’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Leandra English, who tried to stage an agency coup. It’s the EPA’s “Scientific Integrity Official” who has taken it upon herself to investigate whether Scott Pruitt is fit to serve in the office to which he was duly appointed. It’s the thousands of staffers across the federal government who continue to pump out reports on global warming and banking regulations that undermine administration policy.

The Deep State of Washington DC is not interested in big changes, and the people populating the Deep State don't want to go back to the private sector and actually serve others. Is it any wonder that so many people seek a government job? They see a career there as a guarantee that they will never be fired and never worry about extending or exerting themselves to do more and better.

More broadly, it is a federal workforce whose pay and benefits are completely out of whack with the private sector. A 2011 American Enterprise Institute study found federal employees receive wages 14% higher than what similar workers in the private sector earn. Factor in benefits and the compensation premium leaps to 61%. Nice, huh?

I live in California, and this overwhelming generosity--if it can be called that, cannot be ignored.

These huge payouts are the result of automatic increases, bonuses, seniority rules and gold-plated pensions that are all but extinct in the private sector. The federal workforce is also shielded by rules that make it practically impossible to fire or discipline bad employees, to relocate talent, or to reassign duties. These protections embolden bureaucrats to violate rules. Why was Ms. Lerner allowed to retire with full benefits? Because denying them would have cost far more—and required years of effort.

The key word is "automatic." The bureaucrats do not earn these benefits in any way. Whether a government functionary does a good job or a bad job, they get paid, and they keep getting paid more money and more benefits from year to year.

This is unsightly! It's got to stop.

It’s been nearly 40 years since the last civil-service overhaul. Trump appointees are doing valiant work to shift the bureaucracy by canceling programs and using buyouts to cut staff. White House Counsel Don McGahn —a veteran at battling the federal career elite—is recruiting a generation of judicial nominees who are experts in administrative law. And Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, tapped another administrative-law genius, Neomi Rao, to head the deregulatory effort.

Truly, this is exciting. We are seeing a new type of politician taking over in Washington DC. Men and women who no longer have any interest in making nice with rent seekers in the federal capital. They go to Washington DC for three terms and then leave as fast as possible. We need every Congressman, every politician to have this new attitude, one of "I have to be here, and I can't wait to get out of here."

Congressmen, Senators should not see elected office as a form of royalty, but civic duty, nothing more.

Even so, Trump officials spend most of their days fighting rearguard actions against their own employees when they should be implementing the president’s broad vision across the executive branch. Since congressional Republicans refuse to slash agencies, the least they can do is make oversight a priority.

Trump's executive orders are sound and legal, but Deep State operatives want to stop him. They need to be cleaned out. Clean out the Augean stable of Washington DC! We need a federal government that is lean, green, and demeaned from its former power and preeminence.

Americans generally have a higher opinion of federal agencies than they do of Congress, though the Veterans Affairs and Justice departments have seen their ratings slip in recent years, as has the Environmental Protection Agency. But government overhaul is an issue that unites across parties on grounds of accountability, fairness and spending. Ask Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Yes! What did Walker accomplish particularly that put the government back in the service, in the hands of the people? Collective Bargaining Reforms! Public sector workers have no right to organize and collectivize their power and overbearing demands against the rest of us!

Civil-service reform’s bipartisan appeal means it has a shot in the Senate. The Chuck Schumers and Elizabeth Warrens will fight for their federal union buddies. But will Democrats like Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin and Joe Donnelly —who represent conservative or right-to-work states—go to bat for the likes of Lois Lerner? Will they defend the CFPB, the majority of whose employees take home six-figure salaries, when the median personal income in the U.S. is about $31,000?

The Red State Democrats are in big trouble. They will either have to go along to get along or go away. They are likely not to last long. Its time for all of us to make a stink about these obscene salaries. Six figures for government functionaries!

If Democrats insist on engaging in class warfare, Republicans should take on the governing class. Washington is now home to a bureaucratic elite, fantastically paid and protected, divorced from economic reality, and self-invested in thwarting conservative policy efforts. Let’s drain the swamp, or at least make it smaller.

The governing political class has been getting rich, rich, rich off the rest of us.

Time to put an end to all of this nonsense. I could not agree more. It's time for a massive overhaul of the federal civil service system from top to bottom. I am disappointed that this writer left out another plan for savings: eliminating entire departments.

We do not need a department of Housing and Urban Development. We also do not need the Commerce and the Education departments. Jimmy Carter created the US Department of Education because the teachers' unions went big for him in 1976. Around that same time, however, Congress killed the card-check proposal, which would have made it easier for workers to unionize, even without the permission of members, and harder to decertify unions.

Here are the key reforms which will ensure comprehensive civil service reform:

1. Lengthen the probation period for federal employees. It should be five years, minimum. Why not get rid of tenure altogether? Of course, we must ensure job protections for all workers, whether public or private, but just guaranteeing someone a job for life ... just because is just unbelievable and unjustified. If people do not do their work, they they should not get paid.

2. Merit pay of some kind must be implemented. Government departments which cut their spending by a substantial amount should be able to provide bonuses to the employees. That's what happens in the private sector, does it not?

3. No more public sector unions. No more federal employee unions. They should not be allowed, since the assembly line of government cannot be stopped. This is ridiculous. Even Big Government Fascist Progressive Franklin Delano Roosevelt opposed public sector unions. This is nuts!

4. Civil servants should get pay raises only when the economy is getting better. When the economy faces a downturn, their salaries should be cut. Singapore has enacted a similar policy.

5. Department heads and Executive Departments should compete with each other for who can cut the funding and still function at optimal capacity. Those department heads whose departments cut the most waste and mismanagement can keep their jobs. Those department heads who fall to the bottom of the pack get fired. There has to be an incentive to cut the spending and maximize productivity in government sectors.

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