So when was the last time a president decided to cut the size of the federal workforce? We’re not talking about slowing the rate of growth of the federal government – that is what Washington calls a cut – but actually reducing the number of federal workers. The answer is: not since World War II. But now President Trump says he intends to take a meat axe to the bloated executive branch of the government.
Unbeknownst to most Americans in the midst of being bombarded with news about healthcare reform and the CBO scoring that’s been reported breathlessly by the establishment media, plus the continuing drama over the Trump-Russia connection and accusations by Trump that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama, the most significant news of late – glossed over by most media outlets – is the president’s executive order overhauling the size and structure of the executive branch.
This order, entitled “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch,” will require a thorough examination of every executive department and agency with an eye toward drastic reductions in cost by weeding out waste and duplication of services.
As he was surrounded by his entire cabinet (which still has four vacant positions), Trump’s words were loud and clear:
“Today we’re beginning the process of a long-overdue reorganizing of our federal departments and agencies….We’ve assembled one of the greatest cabinets in history… we want to empower them to make their agencies as lean and effective as possible, and they know how to do it…Today there is duplication and redundancy everywhere…Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted on activities that are not delivering results for hardworking American taxpayers, and not even coming close.”
The president has already announced his support for a fifty four billion dollar increase in defense spending, and his plans to help offset that new spending with significant cuts to executive agencies. The administration proposes to slice twenty percent off the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and fourteen percent from Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and more agencies and departments, including the State Department, will likely experience significant cuts.
The ultimate establishment vessel, the Washington Post, reports that the cuts proposed by this administration would “shake the government to its core.” That sounds like exactly what the voters were seeking when they elected Donald Trump last November.
Of course, we have heard other administrations promote aggressive reorganization plans, and they rarely succeed. But the goal of reducing the size and cost of government is likely to be supported by GOP majorities in both houses of Congress, and one senses that the independence and entrepreneurial spirit of Trump puts him in a better position to accomplish this objective than any president in memory.