Trump’s Good Idea

Trump doesn’t seem to have the same clear central focus for his agenda and campaign messaging so far, partly because he can’t seem to decide whether to attack Biden and Democrats more than his GOP rivals, despite his clear front-runner status.

But one of his good ideas that is front and center is civil service reform, aimed at bringing the administrative state back inside the Constitution. Our permanent government rules us without our consent, and undermines popular government. That’s on purpose. Although Reagan made this point well, even he never spoke the plain truth about it: our administrative state and its ever-swelling bureaucracies are the partisan governing instrument of the Democratic Party. Time to say so, and do something about it.

But here’s how NBC News reports this idea:

Trump zeroes in on a key target of his ‘retribution’ agenda: Government workers

Last month, Trump released a list of proposals to take down what many conservatives believe is a secret cabal of government workers who wield enormous power and work against Republicans. . .

At the top of Trump’s list is reinstituting an executive order known as “Schedule F,” which would reclassify tens of thousands of federal employees involved in policy decisions as at-will employees. In other words, they would lose their employment protections, and it would be much easier for a president to fire them.

And to give a taste of how the policy might be used, the line immediately following Schedule F is a pledge to “overhaul federal departments and agencies, firing all of the corrupt actors in our National Security and Intelligence apparatus.”

The policy was instituted in the final weeks of the Trump administration but was not fully implemented. This time around, should Trump return to the White House, there would be little delay.

Skip the “retribution agenda” part (though, come to think of it, that does sound like a nice bonus). The principle of Trump’s Schedule F proposal is that a President ought to have the power to fire any government official who is in a policy-making capacity. In other words, anyone who has the power, even if delegated properly by Congress to the executive branch, to issue regulations with the force of law ought to be directly accountable to the president, like a Cabinet member or direct presidential appointee would. In what world does it make sense that the president could fire the head of the EPA for going against the president’s policy purposes, but not a bureaucrat who does the same thing?

Sounds like a winning message to me. Don’t expect the media to present it this way. That’s why it will be up to Trump, or any other Republican candidate, to explain it relentlessly to voters.

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