President Trump observed at his Inauguration, “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” His victory forced members of the D.C. establishment to face the reality that they are resented and opposed by about half the country, the half that brought Trump to the White House.
At best, past Republican presidents just settled for slowing the increases.
Moving from words to action, President Trump is challenging his incoming team to pursue actual spending cuts as high as 10% and staffing cuts to 20%.
His “landing teams” in Cabinet agencies have called for cuts as part of their marching orders.
But taming the swamp may be a bigger challenge than he ever imagined. With demonstrations clamoring for his impeachment, leftists in Congress doing all they can to delay and resist his every move, leaks sharing politically embarrassing information like a sieve, the new president seems literally surrounded by swamps and a media ready to protect it and attack his every move.
Trump should have had a clue on election night. As the media gradually realized that Donald Trump was going to beat their candidate, the state and precinct numbers told the story. Large metropolitan areas went Clinton and Middle America, the south and the rust belt went Trump. But the District of
Columbia, the home of most federal employees, went 90.9% for Hillary. Donald Trump won a mere 4.1%.
Ninety-five percent of federal bureaucrats’ donations were for Clinton (99 percent at the State Department, 97 percent at the Department of Justice).
Press Secretary Sean Spicer observed, “When you have eight years of one party in office, there are people who stay in government—affiliated with, joined—and continue to espouse the agenda of the previous administration.
So, I don’t think it should come to any surprise that there are people who burrowed into government during the eight years of the last administration….”
Abraham Lincoln instituted a bold, deep change in the bureaucracy. After taking office, Lincoln fired almost 80 percent of federal employees. Lincoln, the first Republican and first anti-slavery president, came to Washington after six decades of almost-uninterrupted Democratic dominance of the executive branch. He replaced pro-secession, pro-slavery bureaucrats with pro-Union enthusiasts who helped him win.
The swamp is bloated and expensive to maintain. Since the 1990s, the federal workers’ compensation growth has outpaced that of private-sector workers. In 2015 federal workers earned 76 percent more, on average, than private-sector workers and 42 percent more, on average, than state and local government workers. When benefits such as their own health care plan and pensions are included, the federal compensation advantage over private workers is even larger. In 2015, according to BEA data, total federal compensation averaged $123,160 or 76 percent more than the private-sector average of $69,901.
Wisely, President Trump has already put a freeze on federal hiring. Barely
two weeks into his tenure as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has reassigned most of the two dozen staff assigned to work alongside him. He’s instituting a “major reorganization” at the State Department. Some positions won’t be filled.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked the remaining 46 U.S. attorneys
appointed by President Obama to resign “in order to ensure a uniform transition.” Sessions has called on the dedicated career prosecutors in our
U.S. attorney’s offices to do the heavy lifting until new attorneys can be appointed.
When companies face tough times, good leaders right size and right skill.
There is a sign that President Trump ought to put in every department “Nothing inspires genius like a tight budget!” It’s time to put a cap on federal spending and force their leaders to make the tough choices the private sector faces. Peter Drucker used to say, “The essence of strategy is denial.” Good leaders must know what to say “no” to in order to have the resources to pay for what’s essential. In the president’s case, promised increases for veterans, the military and border enforcement.
The government isn’t spending government money; they’re spending the money they take from you, the taxpayers. Of course, there are many exceptional federal employees willing to support the administration in power; keep them. But yes, it is time to tame the swamp.