The Case For Draining The Swamp Is Stronger Than Ever

The Case For Draining The Swamp Is Stronger Than Ever
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris (Images: Left—YouTube screen grab, right—Bloomberg News video)

By Stephen Moore

The latest official employment report finds once again that the federal government and state-and-local government hiring spree is still in full gear.  Over the past year health care and government hiring has outpaced every private sector industry.

It is not just the Internal Revenue Service that is bringing on thousands of new workers. The bloat is everywhere.

So, even though there are a lot more government workers, good luck finding them or getting them on the phone.

This is because so few of them are actually physically on the job.

What is happening in the federal government (“Club Fed”) these days borders on the absurd — or should I say the obscene.  A recent survey by Federal News Network of federal workers finds only 6% are working full time in the office. Thirty percent are full time remote. Office buildings in Washington have become city-block long zombies. Especially on Fridays.

While exact comparisons between public and private employees are tricky and inexact, best estimates are that in 2023 roughly 30% of private workers were working from home or remotely either some or all of the time. In the private sector, the percentage of employees working from home has actually declined from about 50% during Covid (2020).

This means that federal employees are three times more likely to be working remotely either some or all of the time.

I am all for employees working remotely a few days a week and this is likely to become more common in the information and digital age. I do that myself.

But one has to wonder how many of these workers are really necessary. And what are the chances that these remote government workers who can almost never get fired for bad performance are putting in an honest day’s work. My suspicion is very few.

The irony is that three years ago the federal government issued an order for federal employees to return to work post-Covid.  Many thousands have blatantly ignored the order.

Remember, government workers have some of the cushiest and least stressful jobs on the planet. And they get paid roughly 30 to 40% more than comparably skilled private workers — when taking account exorbitant benefits.

Here is my solution. Uncle Sam is losing almost $2 trillion a year.  Stop hiring new people. Every federal agency including the biggest bureaucracy in the world — the Pentagon — should impose a hiring freeze — except for extraordinary circumstances — until the budget is balanced. Then impose a 30% across the board reduction in force (RIF).

Finally, if the government needs more revenues, start by selling federal buildings that are less than one-half occupied. Many buildings are less than 20 percent occupied.

Former President Donald Trump’s most popular rallying cry in 2016 was to “drain the swamp.” But today the swamp is deeper than ever and the deep state swamp creatures are more numerous than ever after four years of the Biden-Kamala administration.  If Trump wins, he and Republicans should get draining.

Stephen Moore is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.


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