The Environmental Protection Agency is on track to slash 47% of its total staff by the end of President Trump’s first term, according to a report in the Washington Examiner. After just one year, EPA chief Scott Pruitt has reduced his staff to levels unseen since the Reagan administration. If just those federal employees set to retire by 2021 do indeed leave, Pruitt will have cut more than 7,000 bureaucrats.
“We’re proud to report that we’re reducing the size of government, protecting taxpayer dollars, and staying true to our core mission of protecting the environment,” Pruitt boasted. Meanwhile, other federal agencies have followed suit after President Trump’s January 2017 hiring freeze hit large swaths of the executive branch. Trump’s order stated, “No vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled, and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances,” including those pertaining to national security. Although the freeze technically lifted in the spring, most agencies have continued to abide by its guidelines. The last president to enact a major federal hiring freeze was Ronald Reagan.
With the exception of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Interior, all Cabinet departments by September had fewer permanent staff than the day Trump took office. In addition, Trump’s proposed spending cuts triggered a spending slowdown across agencies despite the absence of a 2017 budget from Congress.
Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union representing 150,000 federal workers at over 30 agencies laments, “Morale has never been lower. Government is making itself a lot less attractive as an employer.” Taxpayers can only hope that Trump’s government labor policies soon put Reardon himself out of a job, as even left-wing labor pioneers Samuel Gompers and Franklin Roosevelt understood that government workers should never have the right to unionize, as the natural tug and pull of union dealing disappears when the government negotiates with itself.
Not all federal employees dislike the cuts. An annual survey of federal workers shows a slight uptick in job satisfaction. Stephanie Valentine, a program analyst at the Education Department, explained, “Oftentimes we run on autopilot and continue to fund programs that don’t produce the results that were intended. You can’t keep blindly spending because that’s what we’ve always done.” Valentine has reportedly never perused a Democrat Party platform.
Before his death in 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia observed that unaccountable, overgrown executive agencies posed the greatest threat to American liberty. If President Trump can reduce bureaucracy to Reagan era levels within a year, Americans might hope to press on to Coolidge era numbers by his second term. For an administration that promises to make America great again, at least it’s a good start.