Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Drain the Swamp

            Donald Trump campaigned on draining the swamp, and he has been instrumental in firing several members of it.  Now he may be posed to drain even more of the swamp because of the government shutdown. Only time will tell what will happen, but there is a good chance coming up. Trump may be able to do the task that President Ronald Reagan wanted to do but never had the opportunity to do it – reduce the size of the federal government.

            The Daily Caller posted an anonymous op-ed yesterday that was supposedly written by a senior government official. The article says that the fight over building a barrier on the southern border and the subsequent government shutdown may be “an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.” It seems that most of the government employees who are not currently working are not missed because only “fifteen percent” of them did any work anyway. The rest of them spent their time at the office doing other things, such as “plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position.” They do not do anything of value for the American people, but they do not commit any acts for which they could be fired. The government is doing well without them.

Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks….

The president’s instincts are right. Most Americans will not miss non-essential government functions. A referendum to end government plunder must happen. Wasteful government agencies are fighting for relevance but they will lose. Now is the time to deliver historic change by cutting them down forever.

            Americans may wonder how the government got so big that this many employees are not even missed in a shutdown. It is a good question that was answered in the article. It is the “nature of a big administrative bureaucracy… to grow to serve itself.” In other words, the government is bigger than it needs to be because bureaucrats make it happen. By suggesting that the layoff is Trump’s opportunity to decrease the government bureaucracy, the writer may have been referring to reduction-in-workforce (RIF) rules.

            Michael Roberts has an article about RIF rules and updated it after the layoffs started in December. He says that there are certain rules that the government must follow in order to have a RIF action take place without being sued by those “who are adversely impacted.” There are “predetermined criteria” that must be followed, and officials in charge must “communicate with employees how and why decisions are made.”

            One of the most important rules is that RIF actions cannot be used to get rid of bad employees. In other words, officials cannot pick and choose which employees are fired. Roberts says that four factors must be taken into account when terminating employees: (1) Tenure,
(2) Veteran status, (3) Total federal civilian and military service, and (4) performance. Since performance is the last of the four, this means that employees cannot be fired simply for bad performance during a RIF action. According to Roberts’ article, the layoff could turn into something permanent soon because we are in day 25 of the shutdown.

When agencies furlough employees for more than 30 calendar days or 22 discontinuous work days, they must use RIF procedures.

An employee can be terminated or moved into an available position. The new position does not have to be at the same pay grade, but it does have to be within three grades or grade intervals of an employee’s current position. There can be a series of “bumping” that can go on as employees are placed in lower positions displacing employees in filled positions.

            A RIF action may or may not get rid of all poor-performing employees because those with the longest tenure, veteran status, and extensive service are given priority. My husband was the only electrical engineer working for the State of Alaska, and he survived several RIF actions simply because of who he would bump out of office. Even though a federal RIF procedure would not get rid of all the bad employees, it may be instrumental in clearing out some liberals put into government service by Barack Obama just before he left office.

            Thomas Lifson posted an article at American Thinker suggesting that a RIF action may have been President Trump’s plan all along when he offered to shoulder the blame for the shutdown. He thinks that Trump may have knowingly “suckered” the Democrats and the Deep State into a “trap.” “President Trump has proven that he is a `disruptor’ who changes the framework of thinking on major issues by refusing to accept the `givens’ – the assumptions of how things always have been done and therefore always must be done.”

            We know that Trump thinks outside the box much of the time. He came to the office of President from a long career as a successful businessman. We know that businessmen work for a profit and never have more employees than they need to do the job. Trump may have waited until the nation was in a good position, or he may just be taking advantage of a good opportunity. The economy is roaring, and there are more jobs available than employees to fill them. This is an excellent time for a big RIF action, and a brilliant way to drain the swamp. We can only hope that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer hold out for five more days!

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