The Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL
Donald Trump, Bureaucracy Apprentice
By THE EDITORIAL BOARDJAN. 2, 2017
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Every election year, politicians of both parties portray Washington as a Gomorrah of influence peddling, goldbricking and waste, funded by hardworking taxpayers. But to the civil servants who process Social Security payments, hunt tax cheats, track terrorists, enforce environmental laws, maintain national parks or test experimental drugs, the federal government is not just the source of a reliable paycheck but an honorable mission.
Peanut Gallery- To generalize about 2.1M GS employees and 4.2M contractors (FY 2012 federal census) is COMPLETE FOLLY. Senator Coburn made a CONGRESSIONAL CAREER studying waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government. Dr. Coburn KNEW the country was essentially sick, with a giant “tape worm” called CONTRACTORS. Based on detailed studies of service contracts, Sen. Coburn determined 30% of all service contracts were redundant. Based on $200 per hour (average billable rate for contractors) and 2,088 hours per federal fiscal year, that means we the taxpayers over pay $526.1 BILLION PER YEAR for a government that increasingly is much too big to succeed.
Republicans especially delight in belittling the bureaucracy and complaining about what they call federal workers’ “lifetime tenure,” the Civil Service rules that help shield them from political interference. President-elect Donald Trump has no governing experience, arriving in Washington with so little understanding of the federal government that he thought he would inherit President Obama’s White House staff. This naïveté, combined with his advisers’ and his party’s ideological hostility to government, has led to bizarre moves that have unnerved the federal work force.
Peanut Gallery– To criticize Donald Trump for not understanding the DRAMATIC EXCESS of the federal government? More folly. To add 4,000 federal workers to a bloated work force to begin with, on the face of it, is abhorrent. If Trump came from a political family (i.e. Bush or Clinton) he would know that the 4,000 “new hires” were pay back for what the “loyal staffers” had done for the candidate’s campaign. He would know that the previous administrations 4,000 employees would move over to K Street lobbying positions…to peddle influence from their previous access to power when in the administration. Trump would know that the 4,000 now lobbyists would wait out the eight years of the opposition party…to return to the federal government when their party returned to power. Of course, that was then…this is now. And Trump now knows the K Street movement of the 4,000 is a “threat” to the taxpayer…which is why he has forbidden all of his federal hires from becoming lobbyists.
Mr. Trump has declared, with evident hallucination, that he can pay off the $19 trillion national debt by targeting federal agency “waste, fraud and abuse.”
Peanut Gallery- Here the NYT editorial board is expressing their own hallucination. The board knows NOTHING about the number of contractors working in the federal government. The board know NOTHING about the average billable rate paid out to the Prime contracting firms that employ the contractors. The board knows NOTHING about the level of redundancy in federal professional service contracts. The board know NOTHING about the waste, the fraud and the abuse that is SYSTEMIC in the federal government.
The board’s hallucination is that the US federal government is above reproach…when we have countless examples, it is not. According to the Department of Justice website, 40+ Defense Department contractors have committed contract fraud and have been fined BILLIONS of dollars.
Does the board know how many GS employees Obama added to the federal government of George Bush? By an OPM spread sheet, I count near 200,000 in Obama’s first term. Does the board know how many contractors Obama added to the federal government of George Bush? By an OPM spread sheet, I count 1,100,000 in Obama’s first term. How much money did Obama BORROW to create the 1.3 million jobs? Does the board know? Nope. Well, again at $200 per hour for the average contractor, and $65 per hour pay and benefits for the average GS employee, Obama and the Congress borrowed $1.3 TRILLION from us, our children and our children’s children to fund a federal government that served the White House and not our houses.
The best measure of such savings, in the form of “improper payments,” such as Social Security paid to dead people, maxes out at about $125 billion, and the government is already working to recoup that.
He has promised a blanket hiring freeze, even though the size of the civilian federal work force has been declining over the last 50 years.
Peanut Gallery- Here the board reveals that they are simply puppets for the federal worker who spoon fed them the data they sight. Reaching back 50 years, to a time when GS census was higher than it is right now…again fails to account for the CONTRACTORS who outnumber GS employees 2 to 1 (4.2M vs. 2.1M, again FY12 census).
Mr. Trump has said that having 10 percent fewer workers would make it easier to police them for corruption, as if they were the housekeeping staff in one of his hotels instead of a labor force of 2.5 million.
Peanut Gallery- If the federal labor force as of this minute, is 2.5M, and the board is accounting for JUST GS employees, then Obama has added ANOTHER 400,000 to the government census in his SECOND TERM! But the board doesn’t know the number, nor do they understand the distinction between GS employees and contractors.
Mr. Trump’s transition team sent a questionnaire to the Department of Energy — which safeguards the nation’s nuclear arsenal and underwrites clean energy projects — asking for the names of workers who’d been involved in climate change initiatives. No less ominously, he then named former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who once said he’d like to kill off the entire department, as his pick for its secretary.
Peanut Gallery- Obama fund raisers “invaded” the Department of Energy to shepherd their “clean energy” projects…to make sure the venture capitalists who funded Obama’s 2008 campaign were “reimbursed.” Forty-one (41) projects for “green batteries,” “green fuels,” solar and wind were funded by Obama’s DoE, when Bush’s DoE would not make such investments. Why? Did the applications, the companies and the underlying technologies IMPROVE over time? Nope. The Venture Capitalists behind the 41 projects made INVESTMENTS in the Obama campaign and EXPECTED a return on their INVESTMENT. Based on the grants and low interest loans paid out by Obama’s DoE, it appears for every $1.0M paid to the campaign, $500M was paid out by the DoE to the VCs. At this point, the companies that Bush would not fund and Obama did fund…still failed at a collective loss of $8.929 billion.
Trump’s Department of Justice should investigate the forty-one Department of Energy failures for fraud. When evidence of fraud is discovered, the fraudsters should be prosecuted and the funds clawed-back from the Venture Capitalists who robbed the taxpayers. I have a spreadsheet that details the companies, the funding and the failure. Thus, I’m happy to help with the fraud investigations.
Almost two weeks ago, diplomats at the State Department were rattled by another transition team request, this one seeking information on the costs and staffing of “existing programs and activities to promote gender equality,” a favored initiative of Hillary Clinton’s when she was secretary of state. Was the request meant to gauge the programs’ cost-effectiveness, or was it a prelude to abolishing them? The transition team wasn’t saying.
Peanut Gallery- Gender equality efforts have been underway in private industry for decades. Finding out what the federal government pays for gender equality is a legitimate question…based on all the EXCESS we already know about the federal budget process.
The reputation of the federal work force is not helped by revelations of mismanagement at the Department of Veterans Affairs, self-dealing among regulators overseeing the oil industry, swanky “conferences” for General Services Administration employees and scandals at the Secret Service. Even before Mr. Trump won, Newt Gingrich was advising him to abolish Civil Service protections to make it easier to fire incompetent or unethical performers. But just as Mr. Gingrich’s own ethical lapses unfairly tar honest politicians, a relatively tiny number of corrupt workers tarnish the vast majority of civil servants who are, as the Trump team has said, “great and committed people,” often forgoing higher private-sector salaries for public service.
Peanut Gallery– “Forgoing higher private sector salaries” is by far the most over used phrase every attributed to federal employees. Working people, no matter where they are, or what they are doing are FOREVER maximizing their circumstance whenever possible. If a federal worker could make more money doing the exact same thing they are already doing, THEY CHANGE EMPLOYERS…which is why we have 2 contractors for every 1 GS employee in the U.S. federal government! And the “revolving door” between federal employment and “contracting” is the MOST EXPENSIVE process for U.S. tax payers. The revolving door is more expensive than any over due and over budget weapon system or other frauds routine in the federal government.
To imagine that Federal Employees are somehow ALTRUISTIC, bordering on RELIGIOUS is comical. Just ride the metro at rush hour in D.C. . Tell me you are surrounded by motivated and committed people and I will show you a bridge for sale in New York City. Federal employment is not competitive. Few federal employees come under ANY performance review. Promotions are based on time served, not efficiency or genius. All federal employees seek to join the highest fraternity of all…the Senior Executive Service, where pay tops out near $200,000, almost what members of Congress make! And who is in the SES? Try Liz Lerner, who materially damaged Tea Party groups by withholding their tax free status, preventing them from raising money and building an opposition to Barak Obama. Try Inspector General Wooditch over at the Veterans Administration. Wooditch was busy ignoring veterans dying on waiting lists, while he himself was fighting misconduct charges for his public MASTURBATION!
Further, as Mr. Gingrich must know from hard experience, it costs taxpayers plenty when political grandstanders wage broad attacks on the federal government: Mr. Gingrich did that twice in the 1996 fiscal year, when, as House speaker, he shut down the government, and the resulting lost revenue and disruption of government services and contracts cost jobs and about $2 billion in today’s dollars. Even though government employees can be prosecuted for working during a shutdown, many did so anyway, laboring without pay to keep vital projects running.
Peanut Gallery- Vital federal employees are REQUIRED to work through government shut downs. Again, to paint these civil servants as NOBLE is absurd on it’s face. Again, the Board doesn’t know what they are talking about.
In time, Mr. Trump may want to take a broad look at the bureaucracy, seeking ways to make the overall machinery more effective, much as President Bill Clinton asked Vice President Al Gore to do.
Peanut Gallery- The balancing of the budget by the Clinton Gore team did not come from their creative management or genius. It came from the end of the Cold War and a reduced investment in Defense expenditures. It also came from OUT SOURCING the federal government. It was Clinton Gore who raised the census of contractors in the federal government. Clinton learned how to “fleece” donors in Arkansas with his Arkansas Redevelopment Authority. Thus expanding the for-profit contractors in the federal government, raised campaign contributions from those contractors. We all know now that the Clinton Foundation is another form of the same “fleecing.” And today, the federal contractors “OWN” many influential seats in Congress. Why do you think Hillary Clinton picked Tim Kaine, a Senator from Northern Virginia to be her running mate? She was catering to the contractors who have so much influence on the federal government, and the federal budget.
There are knowledgeable people in the Civil Service eager to help in this task. But the way to engage them is not to target them for their views and belittle the mission of their agencies. That approach invites certain failure.
Peanut Gallery- Wrong. To insure CERTAIN FAILURE, Trump’s cabinet picks will gather the existing federal executives who run the bloated bureaucracies, sit back and listen to the executives say, “This is a big agency. You do your policy work and we will run everything. Don’t worry, we’ve done this for years, we have your back.” Happily, Trump has appointed DOERS and not FIGURE HEADS. Best case scenario? Trump fires all the federal hires brought on board by Barack Obama. If Obama added 200,000 GS in his first term and another 400,00 in his second term, letting the 600,000 go will save $82.7 BILLION PER YEAR. If TRUMP releases the 1,100,000 contractors Obama added, that would save $459.4 BILLION PER YEAR. So if all Trump does is FIRE THE LAST HIRED, he would save us all $542.1 BILLION PER YEAR or $2.16 TRILLION IN HIS FIRST TERM.
And, here is the part where Trump proves this is no HALLUCINATION and we begin to pay down our debt. If Trump releases the redundant contractors and re-hats to GS status the required contractors, we would save $200 per hour for every released contractor and save $125 per hour for every re-hatted contractor. After releasing the 1.1M Obama contractor hires (so we do not double count the savings), here’s the math:
(3.3 M x .3) x $200/hr x 2,088 hrs/yr = $413.4 billion/year
(3.3M x .7) x $125/hr x 2,088 hrs/yr = $602.9 billion/year
TOTAL $1.01 TRILLION/year.
Since we don’t want to crash the local D.C. economy, Trump can phase in the Release, Re-hat, Retire strategy over his first four years. Thus, unknown to the NY Times Editorial board, a talented manager like President Trump CAN BALANCE THE BUDGET and begin to pay down the debt on the backs of redundant bureaucrats…called contractors. It’s not an hallucination. It’s called management. But to manage, you have to know MATH and care about the tax payer. Apparently by their commentary, the NY Times Editorial Board members do not know Math and do not care about the tax payer. Thank God they won’t be President.