To the Augean stables: Can Trump hose out the federal bureaucracy?
The Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel has an important proposal about how President Trump can take his tax victory momentum and move the conservative agenda forward: by cleaning out the federal bureaucracy. Considering who voted for him, it's one of the best courses of action he can possibly take. Strassel thinks it has a bipartisan shot in Congress.
We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.
It's Lois Lerner, the IRS official who used her powers to silence conservative nonprofits. It's the "anonymous" officials who leak national security secrets daily. It's the General Services Administration officials who turned over Trump transition emails to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the absence of a warrant. It's the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Leandra English, who tried to stage an agency coup. It's the EPA's "Scientific Integrity Official[,]" who has taken it upon herself to investigate whether Scott Pruitt is fit to serve in the office to which he was duly appointed. It's the thousands of staffers across the federal government who continue to pump out reports on global warming and banking regulations that undermine administration policy.
More broadly, it is a federal workforce whose pay and benefits are completely out of whack with the private sector. A 2011 American Enterprise Institute study found [that] federal employees receive wages 14% higher than what similar workers in the private sector earn. Factor in benefits and the compensation premium leaps to 61%. Nice, huh?
Firing a few of these self-interested layabouts and crappy customer service-providers would do wonders for Trump's poll ratings. For too long, they have lived high on the hog, with massive benefits the average worker can only dream of, while thumbing their noses and expressing their contempt for the taxpayers who pay for their lavish lifestyles. Why, again, is Washington, D.C.-area real estate the nation's highest valued, and why are the richest counties in America the ones surrounding the capital? Why was the only part of the country that never experienced the Great Recession of the Obama era the one that encircles the U.S. capital, while everyone else suffered?
Getting a little order in this area would do wonders to reform government into a recognizable institution that Americans can respect. If civil servants can be placed on a par with private-sector workers, then maybe those in the business would learn a little empathy regarding what the citizens are going through. And maybe they'd get more realistic ideas about taxation and regulation.
If Trump takes Strassel up and manages to accomplish this, he will have cleaned out the Augean stables, the mythical stables Heracles (or Hercules if you like Roman style) had to clean as his fifth labor. A dirty job, but someone had to do it.