According to Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner, the federal body politic is in for yet another political training regimen. We’ve tried the Reagan Diet and the much less rigorous Jenny-Bush plan and now it looks like the nation is set to experience the Trump Cleanse. Designed to flush 20 percent of the bureaucrat backlog and reduce federal workforce constipation once and for all.
Bedard writes that staff cuts “in some departments” could go as high as “20 percent” as heartless Trumpistas lay waste to cushy “public service” positions.
Unfortunately this plan, like all the others, won’t work. It will be as lasting as a “Forever Friends” henna tattoo. Uncle Sam will be back to chowing down on cheese in no time as leftist legislators tell him he has to eat to keep up his strength.
This is the same yo-yo dieting we experience every time a Republican who “wants to reduce the size of government” enters the Oval Office. A few sacrificial bureaucrats are expelled into the howling wilderness of the private sector and for a while a little less porn is downloaded onto government hard drives.
Then the next Democrat elected president rehires those bureaucrats and adds some of their friends to the payroll to make up for the cruel neglect of government under Republican rule. It’s the HR equivalent of chain immigration, only there’s no hope of any of these time-servers will ever become productive citizens.
These periodic reductions in force followed by rebound Democrat hiring can’t even be called binge and purge reductions.
It’s more like binge and burp.
Just as nature abhors a vacuum - leftists abhor an empty desk. I doubt Trump is a fan of history, but someone in his administration must be familiar with the story of Rome and Carthage. Rome fought three wars with Carthage over who would be the dominant power in the Mediterranean.
Rome won the first and second Punic Wars, forcing Carthage to make peace and severely reducing the city’s power and influence for a time. Think of the situation as something like the Dept. of Education under Reagan.
Carthage would patiently bid its time, slowly increasing in size and strength until it was ready to challenge Rome again. Which would be Education under Bill Clinton.
Rome solved the problem after the 3rd Punic War. It leveled Carthage, not leaving “one stone upon another” and legionnaires scattered salt on the ground so nothing would ever grow there again.
That should be the Dept. of Education under Trump. Along with Energy, Commerce, Agriculture and Labor.
Cutting a few percentage points from every federal agency it like cutting a few calories from every between-meal snack. It’s too easy for the calories and the bureaucrats to sneak back. What harm will one more bite or one more bureaucrat really cause?
While the administration is preoccupied with determining if Obama is really writing his own tweets, canny bureaucratic infighters will be secretly adding a meat-head here and a meat-head there until before you know it Uncle Sam is unzipping his pants once more to relieve bloating after lunch.
The only way you can cut employees and have them stay cut is to amputate the agency.
This makes adding bureaucrats harder for Democrats when they resume power. It’s easy enough to increase the size of an existing agency that has undergone “decimation” by Trumpistas. Creative bureaucrats, by far the worst kind, simply redefine the mission. Fighting hunger in America is no longer defined as feeding people who aren’t getting enough to eat. A tough program to sell in a country with the fattest people on the planet.
Instead the new mission becomes fighting “food anxiety.” A nebulous condition I may have suffered from after learning a girlfriend intended to cook dinner. Helping anxious people will require an infusion of bureaucrats, so we’re right back where we started.
Raising an agency from the dead and then re-staffing it is many orders of magnitude more difficult.
Most patients will tell you if they have to undergo amputation, they would prefer it be fast. Trump should use that as a guideline. Proposals to eliminate agencies must be done in the first six months of his administration or they won’t be done at all.
Democrats will scream because federal bureaucrats and their handout clients are two important components of the Democrat base. The more federal workers Trump retains, the more potential Democrat moles he’ll have working against him and attempting to thwart the will of the Electoral College.
Trump owes them nothing. Reaching out for “bi-partisan solutions” is a soft surrender. Eliminate the agencies now, endure the bad press and by time for his re-election no one will remember.
Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com