On Friday, President Trump signed three executive orders aimed reforming the federal bureaucracy. The first order makes it easier to fire incompetent federal employees. The second limits the amount of time federal employees can be paid for union work. The third requires federal agencies to negotiate union contracts in less than a year.
Last year, Congress passed a law that made it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire poor performers and employees involved in misconduct. The law was urgently needed, given the problems that have plagued the VA.
But why shouldn’t officials at all government agencies have similar power to reward good performers and to remove those who are letting taxpayers down? A government job ought not be a sinecure. Federal workers should be held accountable for poor performance just as employees in the private sector are.
The second reform, limiting the amount of time federal employees can be paid for union work, also makes great sense. Under Trump’s executive order, they can spend no more than 25 percent of their workday doing union business. The administration estimates that this measure will save the government $100 million a year.
Frankly, 25 percent seems like an excessive amount of time for government workers to spend blowing off their real job to work on union matters, including political matters on the unions’ agenda. As Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government says, “there is nothing more galling to limited government advocates than public employee unions being largely subsidized by taxpayer dollars while using their dues payments to support politicians in favor of expanding government.” But at least Trump’s order restricts this phenomenon. It’s a step in the right direction.
Executive orders can be overturned by a new president. As sensible as Trump’s order are, I would expect the next Democratic president to overturn all three, including the one facilitating the discharge of poor performers. Protecting incompetent people who belong to groups that vote for Democrats is a significant component of what that party is about.
Candidate Trump promised to rein in the federal bureaucracy. This is now yet another promise Trump has moved decisively to keep.
And it’s yet another action Trump has taken that conservatives have wanted for years. Others include nominating conservative judges, cutting taxes and reforming the tax code, increasing military spending, eliminating or trimming excessively burdensome federal regulations, effectively ending Obamacare’s individual mandate, enforcing immigration laws, expanding domestic energy production, withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, aligning the U.S. more closely with Israel, being tougher with Iran, and, for that matter, being tougher with Russia.
If the Obama administration and its deep state operataives used improper methods in an effort to undermine Trump’s presidential bid, and later his presidency, it’s easy to see why. What’s difficult to understand is why some conservatives provided so much aid and comfort to these efforts and continue to do so absent evidence of Russia collusion.