Trump’s biggest obstacle.

Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 11/18/16


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 2,815,000 civilian employees on the federal payroll. That makes Uncle Sam the largest civilian employer in the world.

Moreover, those employees are the world’s best paid. The average federal salary is over $123,000 per year –  a whopping 80 percent more than the average in the private sector. Federal employees with only three years of service get a month’s worth of paid vacation.

Simply put: a government job is now the easiest, fastest and lowest-risk way to enjoy a middle class lifestyle that culminates in a comfortable retirement.

Federal employees know this and they are fiercely protective of their cushy deal. It’s that nearly three-million strong army of federal employees that constitutes the single biggest obstacle standing in Donald Trump‘s way.

When Trump talks about ‘draining the swamp,’ he ignores the swamp ecology at his peril. Elected politicians are the minority species. The dominant species is bureaucratus perpetuus, the permanent, unaccountable, unfire-able and thus largely ungovernable federal bureaucracy.

Thank government employee unions. The unions collect dues from federal employees and pass those dues to complicit – mostly Democrat – lawmakers in the form of campaign contributions. Duly bought-and-paid-for congressmen and senators in turn pass laws creating complex rules regarding personnel policies for federal employees. Those rules are so Byzantine, so complex and so time consuming as to make it nearly impossible to fire a federal employee.

The VA scandal that erupted in 2014 is a prime example. Despite VA hospitals being exposed as having neglected military veterans to the point of bringing about thousands of premature deaths, despite being exposed as having engaged in a cover-up of that fact, despite having been caught creating fake records in order to make it appear that performance goals tied to bonuses were being met, and despite President Obama having said, “I won’t stand for it, there must be consequences,” only three civil service employees were fired in the wake of the VA scandal. One received a 15-day suspension. Another was suspended but the suspension was overturned on appeal.

And for whom did the majority of federal employees vote last week? Here’s a hint. It wasn’t Donald Trump. Federal employees are all about growing government and “that never changes no matter who sits in the White House,” says American Federation of Government Employees union president J. David Cox.

Donald Trump became famous because of a TV show in which he starred and in which he frequently said, “You’re fired!”

President Trump is going to quickly learn that the federal government isn’t a TV reality show and that federal employees aren’t subject to what the rest of us take for granted in the private sector.

Yes, Donald Trump should get Obamacare repealed. Yes, he should deport criminal aliens. Yes, he should get a tax cut passed.

But for a truly transformational presidency, he needs to bring the federal bureaucracy to heel. That’s something no president before him has been able to do – if any of them even tried.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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9 Responses

  1. Robert York says:

    Where did you find those numbers? Here is an information page from the BLS:

    This link contains 2013 data, and shows a total federal civilian workforce of only 1.8 million with an average salary of $79,000.

  2. Linda E Montrose says:

    Think the key words are “if any of them even tried”. Trump is a different breed of cat and he may not only TRY, but do something. Where there is a will, there is a way. Problem is, the previous ones in the Whitehouse not only didn’t try, they added to the problem! so Trump has his job cut out for him!

  3. myron florey says:

    Trump can bring the bring down the federal Bureaucracy by doing away with civil service with a simple stroke of a pen by borrowing one that Obama left in office. Check and make sure it has a little ink left in it from being over used by Obama.

  4. R. Eagleman says:

    Anyone who cannot see the adverse effects of federal employee unions and civil service protections is not serious about trying to get control of government waste. It is true that to attract employees by offsetting a lower wage scale, civil servants were given many benefits, including job security, generous holidays, and other perks that the private sector could not afford to offer. However, with the onset of federal employee unions, which even F.D.R. could see was not a good idea, this bureaucracy has morphed into a bloated and unresponsive workforce. No administration has been willing to confront this behemoth, as the weight of this self-serving special interest is capable of causing all kinds of disruptions to make sure it survives. If a private sector business operated in such an inefficient manner, it would not last long; however, with unlimited sources of funding from the taxpayer, no problem. If there could just be a hiring freeze and some reassignments without laying off a lot of federal workers, this could make a big difference. If the legislature would have the courage to remove the union influence, this also would improve the bottom line, as well as the efficiency. I do not know if a Republican administration and congress can tame this beast or not, but it should be a top priority to give it a shot. This is probably the last chance.

  5. Charles Allison says:

    Changing the benefits and pay of federal employees might be difficult. However, slowing the growth of existing employees, and getting more and better work out of them, shouldn’t be. Hiring freezes and natural attrition, coupled with refining of job duties/expectations, should make for improvements in the process.

  6. Chris says:

    The Bushes change government structure too. I would not say for the better.

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