Posted on 8/2/2017, 11:10:09 AM by afraidfortherepublic
Deeds, not words, are the best defense.
Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to “drain the swamp” ––the D.C. establishment made up of most Congressmen from both parties, employees of executive agencies and bureaus, the political appointees who head up those agencies, and the hordes of lobbyists, fundraisers, Congressional staffers, “consultants,” “journalists,” and pundits.
These are the “Beltway insiders” or the “political establishment” whose natural habitat is the swamp. These are the alligators Trump needs to get rid of.
Of course, many of these D.C. denizens of the establishment are permanent dwellers in the swamp, beyond the reach of the president or even Congress. Besides, monitoring Congressmen should be the business of their constituents, who should hold them accountable.
But too often voters like the pork their alligators bring back to their states or districts. As for pundits, consultants, lobbyists, fundraisers, and journos, they are employees of private businesses, with the right of political free speech and association. Keeping them in line is the responsibility of citizens trading in the market-place of ideas, and imposing ballot-box accountability to punish the office-holders corrupted by these parasites.
Then there are 2.1 million federal employees. They manage the federal government’s agencies, execute the laws that they, not Congressmen, actually write, and judge whether the rest of us comply––collapsing together and usurping the separation of powers central to our Constitutional order. And they do so without any accountability to the voters who pay their handsome salaries and Cadillac benefits (85% higher in value than private employees’). They are, no surprise, stalwart supporters of big-government Democrats, to whom this last election they gave 95% of their political donations. And don’t forget the 3.7 million federal contract-workers who also do the federal Leviathan’s bidding.
Something could be done about reducing the size and intrusive scope of this bureaucratic behemoth. Trump has made a good start. He has left many vacancies open with a hiring freeze, and has proposed reducing some agency budgets in order to starve the beast and prune the regulations that empower it. In his 2018 budget proposal he also called for eliminating cost of living raises for employees in the Federal Employee Retirement System, cutting the Civil Service Retirement System’s COLAs by 0.5%, and making employees contribute more to their retirement annuities. If Congress approves, of course. Good luck with that. But he has not yet tackled reducing the more shadowy contract workers, although some are a legitimate resource for the military. When it comes to domestic affairs, however, they carry out the bidding of the federal agencies while most of us citizens have no clue who they are or what they’re up to.
As for Congress, it could pass legislation changing the laws that make federal employees almost untouchable. Like unionized teachers and professors, federal employees benefit from both union protections and virtual tenure––the civil service regulations that make disciplining or firing federal workers time-consuming and costly. There’s nothing to keep Congress from abolishing unions for federal employees, which were created 55 years ago by John Kennedy through an executive order. One of Ronald Reagan’s boldest and most consequential domestic actions came in 1981 when he fired nearly 12,000 air traffic controllers and decertified their union. A Republican Congress should likewise defang this reliably Democrat voting bloc……………………………….