Trump said to be holding a ‘shutdown’ card that would drain the swamp

by WorldTribune Staff, January 16, 2019

As of today, Jan. 16, the partial shutdown of the U.S. government is in its 26th day. In four more days, a threshold will be reached which will enable the permanent layoffs of federal workers who have been furloughed for 30 days or more.

Swamp – meet drain.

‘If this was the plan all along, it would explain why Trump “goaded Chuck and Nancy in his televised meeting with them last year, boasting that he would claim credit for the shutdown.’ / Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Has President Donald Trump “suckered Democrats and the Deep State into a trap that will enable a radical downsizing of the federal bureaucracy?” wrote Thomas Lifson for American Thinker.

Don’t believe that federal bureaucrats can be laid off?

Lifson noted that “in bureaucratese, a layoff is called a RIF – a Reduction in Force – and of course, it comes with a slew of civil service protections. But, if the guidelines are followed, bureaucrats can be laid off – as in no more job.”

Michael Roberts explained RIF in a report last month for The Balance Careers website:

  • A reduction in force is a thoughtful and systematic elimination of positions. For all practical purposes, a government RIF is the same thing as a layoff. …
  • Organizations must stick to predetermined criteria when sorting out what happens to each employee. They must communicate with employees how and why decisions are made. …
  • In deciding who stays and who goes, federal agencies must take four factors into account: 1. Tenure; 2. Veteran status; 3. Total federal civilian and military service; 4. Performance.
  • Agencies cannot use RIF procedures to fire bad employees.

Roberts noted that a lot of procedures must be followed, and merit (“performance”) is the last consideration, but based on the criteria above, employees already furloughed can be laid off (“RIFed”) once they have been furloughed for 30 days or 22 work days.

The Daily Caller published a recent essay written by an “unidentified senior Trump official” who said that devotion to “process” eats up most of the time of federal bureaucrats and is also used by enemies of Trump’s initiatives to stymie the legitimate orders issued by his senior officials.

The official wrote:

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position – some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands – administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown.

Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks. …

President Trump can end this abuse. Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them.

Lifson wrote: “Keep in mind that saboteurs cannot be individually identified and RIFed, but they can be included in the layoffs if they meet the criteria above in terms of seniority and service, and they must be given 60 days’ notice. But once they are gone, they are no longer free to obstruct using the ‘process’ as their friend, because they are gone.”

If this was the plan all along, Lifson wrote, it would explain why Trump “goaded Chuck and Nancy in his televised meeting with them last year, boasting that he would claim credit for the shutdown. How could they resist a prolonged shutdown when he made it so easy to blame him?”

Lifson continued: “Such a mass RIF would be the Trump version of Ronald Reagan firing the air traffic controllers when they went on an illegal strike in 1981. That was completely unexpected by his enemies, vehemently criticized, and successful.

“Among other benefits, it taught the leaders of the USSR that Ronald Reagan was a man whose threats cannot be dismissed as mere rhetoric. If you think that Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-Un, Angela Merkel, and any other foreign leaders would not draw the same conclusion from a massive RIF, then you are kidding yourself.”

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