DOING THE UNTHINKABLE IN WASHINGTON
Washington Post (Bezos Blog)
President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress are drawing up plans to take on the government bureaucracy they have long railed against, by eroding job protections and grinding down benefits that federal workers have received for a generation.
These changes were once unthinkable to federal employees, their unions and their supporters in Congress. But Trump’s election as an outsider promising to shake up a system he told voters is awash in “waste, fraud and abuse” has conservatives optimistic that they could do now what Republicans have been unable to do in the 133 years since the modern civil service was created.
Trump has promised that in his first 100 days he will freeze federal hiring, and has pledged to eliminate two regulations for every new one passed, as well as shut down the Education Department and parts of the EPA.
Hiring freezes, an end to automatic raises, a green light to fire poor performers, a ban on union business on the government’s dime and less generous pensions — these are the blueprint emerging under Republican control of Washington in January.
“We’re going to have to get the country to understand how big the problem is, the human costs of it and why it’s absolutely essential to reform,” said Gingrich, who urged Trump to shrink big government and overhaul the “job-for-life” guarantee of federal work.
Gingrich predicted that Stephen K. Bannon, a former Breitbart News chief who helped steer Trump’s campaign and is now one of his most influential advisers, would lead the effort. “It’s a big, big project,” he said. The project aligns with Bannon’s long-stated warnings about the corrupting influence of government and a capital city rampant with “crony capitalism.”
Top Republicans on Capitol Hill say their first priority will be making it easier to fire employees regarded as incompetent or who break the rules.
“It’s nearly impossible to fire somebody,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz. “When the overwhelming majority do a good job and the one bad apple is there viewing pornography, I want people to be held accountable.”
Gingrich said the Trump administration probably would look for guidance from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who stripped public employee unions of most of their collective-bargaining rights and forced workers to pay more into their pensions and for health care.
“We’re going to be playing defense for at least a couple of years,” acknowledged William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, the third-largest federal union.