|The State Department Building is pictured in |
Washington, D.C. (Reuters: Joshua Roberts)
There shouldn’t be a permanent bureaucracy that can thwart the will of a president.
Before Donald Trump promised to “Make America Great Again,” he entertained millions of Americans through a weekly ritual of telling his least favorite employees, “You’re fired!”
Yet despite his pledges to “drain the swamp,” Trump won’t be able to do the same thing with most of his new workforce: the federal bureaucracy.
But he should.
The American people are paying for employees they can’t even control. Federal bureaucrats enjoy ludicrous protections that far exceed what average Americans can expect in their own jobs and thus isolate the bureaucracy from the will of the American people. To correct this, Congress should pass a law to make all federal employees serve at will — just like Americans in the private sector. If a bureaucrat underperforms, undermines policy, or is no longer needed, he should be dismissed.
Once upon a time, this was common sense. In 1820 Congress so feared a permanent bureaucracy that it required all functionaries to be reappointed every four years. American politics embraced the principle “to the victor goes the spoils,” empowering the president to choose his personnel and control the machinery of government. The spoils system’s most famous advocate was another populist rabble-rouser with a magnificent mane, also sneered at by the elites: Andrew Jackson. Jackson believed that no particular class should dominate government decade after decade, and that government jobs were readily fillable by those in the private sector. For a modern analogy: There’s no reason why a FedEx employee couldn’t replace a bad postal worker.
Much later in the 19th century, a disgruntled job seeker assassinated President James Garfield. Astoundingly, Congress responded by reducing presidential authority over choosing federal employees. Imagine if, in response to discovering that John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan to get the attention of the actress Jodie Foster, Congress had banned movies, lest they inspire similar acts. Increasing presidential security would have been a better response than catering to the whims of lunatics. Instead, Congress planted the seeds for a permanent bureaucracy.Read the rest of this IBD op-ed HERE.
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