No sooner did Donald Trump take office last year when the personnel purges of federal agencies kicked in full career.
But Trump has now upped the ante.
In his first State of the Union address to Congress Tuesday, Trump delivered the following message:
“Tonight I call on the congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”
Trump praised the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability Act passed last June that gives expedited firing authority to the VA chief.
Superficially, this appears to be a prudent strategy.
Why wouldn’t we want to “reward good workers” and remove those who “undermine the public trust or fail the American people?”
But what, exactly, constitutes a “good worker?” What must one do to “undermine the public trust or fail the American people?”
Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, tweeted in response:
“POTUS calling on Congress to remove civil service protections for feds serves the goal of politicizing the career ranks, and it comes on the heels of Paul Ryan saying he wants to ‘cleanse’ the FBI. There’s a reason America did away with the spoils system. (Hint: banana republic)”
President of the National Treasury Employees Union, Tony Reardon, told FCW news the president’s decree “unfortunate” and left “the impression that federal employees are not dedicated to public service.”
He added in an emailed statement to FCW:
“Federal employees must retain existing protections that stop unfair and arbitrary management practices, along with political favoritism and retaliation. Our workforce is non-partisan and merit-based and any reduction in due process protections is a step backward for our country,”
So what’s the catch?
According to Slate:
“Trump is calling for an end to any semblance of independence for the IRS, the FBI, the Department of Justice, or any other federal agency.”
It seems as though Trump is looking for a way to arbitrarily fire political opponents.
It’s no coincidence Trump flirted with firing Robert Mueller, the special council in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump wants loyalty, and he’s willing to eliminate those who fail to pledge their fealty to him.
He promised on the campaign trail to run the government like his business.
It looks as though that’s one campaign promise he is willing to keep.
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