Opinion

OPINION: Let’s Learn From The Shutdown — And Slash Federal Workers

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Dan Backer Attorney

One month, and counting. That’s how long the federal government has been partially shutdown.

Even as Democrats refuse to negotiate with President Trump over border security — prioritizing instead the interests of illegal immigrants—American society is functioning remarkably well. The world has not come to an end. Even when the White House offers a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) compromise, Democrats again opt for blind #Resistance — now punctuated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s petty cancellation of the State of the Union. Shame on them for their obstinate refusal to compromise over one-quarter of one percent of the federal budget.

But, despite the mainstream media’s daily barrage of Trump-bashing, Americans are going about their business as usual. Take the stock market: Since late December, the S&P 500 has largely been on the rise, climbing hundreds of points and reversing a downtick that began at the end of November. U.S. jobless claims, meanwhile, have dropped to record lows.

Anti-Trump news outlets, meanwhile, are so preoccupied painting furloughed government employees as the victims of a heartless president that they’ve glossed over the government shutdown’s minimal impact on the rest of us. At the same time, the Democrats have unintentionally highlighted the reality that we just have more government than we need, and certainly than we can afford, so it’s time to start making cuts.

If American society can function perfectly fine — and even thrive — without the Washington swamp at its swampiest, then why exactly do we need the roughly 700,000 employees who have not been brought back from furlough? If the government’s “essential” functions are relatively unaffected, do we really need the “non-essential” government we haven’t really missed over the past month?

According to one senior Trump official, 80 percent of federal employees “feel no pressure to produce results.” So why exactly do we feel pressured to support them?

That’s why President Trump should take this historic opportunity — handed to him by Democrats — and pursue a sweeping Reduction in Force (RIF), ridding federal agencies of the bureaucratic excess blowing up our budget. Following in the footsteps of President Reagan — who fired hundreds of striking air traffic controllers in 1981 — the Trump administration could use RIFs to shrink the federal workforce by one-third and still uphold the core functions of the government, while saving untold billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

Look at it this way: There are currently more than two million federal employees, earning wages of $170 billion every year. The average federal worker makes roughly $77,000 — though it’s quite a bit higher “inside the Beltway.” When President Trump froze their wages and halted a 2.1 percent pay increase last month, he saved taxpayers an estimated $3.6 billion. That’s right: Stopping a 2.1 percent pay bump saved $3.6 billion!

By eliminating 700,000 unnecessary jobs, we could save far, far more — tens upon tens of billions. That’s enough funding for the border wall and massive investments in infrastructure, and much more — while dramatically reducing the endless burden of a bloated bureaucracy on the business community and everyday Americans. And, while no employee should be subjected to Nancy Pelosi’s petty obstinance, an RIF would still provide back pay and an additional 60 days of paid notice for workers to find better employment opportunities.

As the national debt nears $22 trillion, it’s time to cut government spending and get back on the path of fiscal responsibility. What we don’t need, we must get rid of. And we don’t need a lot of it, as the shutdown shows.

America is thriving without the swamp at its swampiest. Now, it’s time to drain it — forever.

Dan Backer is founding attorney of Political.law, a campaign finance and political law firm in Alexandria, Virginia. He is a veteran campaign counsel who has served more than 100 candidates, PACs and political organizations.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.