2024 Republican Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has vowed, if elected, to reduce the federal workforce by one million.
Not bad, for a start.
In interviews with Axios and Semafor, Ramaswamy said he wanted to make drastic cuts to the federal government. He listed the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Education, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the IRS, the Commerce Department and the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services as potential subjects for the cuts.
The tech entrepreneur told Axios he wants to cut the federal civil workforce, which comprises 2.2 million people, by 75 percent after four years. He added he wants to see a 50 percent reduction by the end of his first year.
“Keep in mind that 30 percent of these employees are eligible for retirement in the next five-year period,” Ramaswamy said. “So it is substantial — no doubt about it — but it’s not as crazy as it sounds.”
No, it’s not nearly as crazy as it sounds; the only thing questionable about it is that it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
The federal government is completely out of control. We, as a nation, are sitting under almost 33 trillion in national debt. Check out this morning’s figures from the US National Debt Clock:
But we have enough, apparently, to send billions to Ukraine, and Congress, in general, doesn’t seem to be taking the problem too seriously.
There can be no coming back from this without cutting spending. Not nibbling around the edges, not reducing the rate of increase (which Democrats always describe as “draconian spending cuts”). What is required is someone willing to swing a meat axe to completely eliminate extra-constitutional agencies.
Candidate Ramaswamy is making the right noises:
According to his campaign website, Ramaswamy aims to “dismantle managerial bureaucracy” by shutting down “toxic government agencies,” eliminating federal employee unions, moving more than 75 percent of federal employees out of Washington, D.C., and “cut wasteful expenditures.”
That’s another good idea: Decentralize the federal government. This not only makes financial sense, but it also makes strategic sense; when Washington D.C. was established as the national capital, the country was a lot smaller than it is now, and foreign powers did not have the reach they do now. One of the advantages held by a nation as vast as ours is that we can make it difficult to strike a blow at the federal government all at once.
Ramaswamy is not the only candidate saying things along these lines:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would cut the “footprint” of all D.C. federal agencies in half if he is elected to the White House in 2024. DeSantis has also suggested eliminating several federal agencies, including the IRS.
Eliminating federal agencies is not only desirable, but if the nation is ever to recover from this mountain of national debt, it may be mandatory. And it’s likely to happen one way or another; better to do it now than to have emergency cuts made in extremis to stave off a default.
It remains to be seen whether any of these candidates, should they move into the White House, would be able to actually make any of this happen. There’s too much graft money to be made in having the power to assign the seemingly endless flow of Uncle Sam’s money, and there are too many local and even state constituencies with the tendency to vote for the candidate who promises the most of someone else’s stuff; it’s hard to run against Santa Claus.
The clock is ticking, and the next two or three election cycles have the potential to decide the course of the country’s fiscal health. Candidates always talk big while on the trail. Vivek Ramaswamy is no exception. But he does have one interesting edge: Like Donald Trump, he’s an outsider. He doesn’t (yet) owe a lot of favors to the Swamp. But he would still have to deal with Congress. And that, folks, is the rub.