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Jerry Shenk


'Deep State' Reform Imperative

by Jerry Shenk
 

On his first full day in office, seeking to save taxpayers $10 trillion over ten years, businessman, now President Donald Trump froze the pay and hiring of federal workers and later announced his desire to downsize the bloated federal bureaucracy.

The Associated Press headlined: "Workers Dismayed By President Trump's Federal Hiring Freeze."

Why? By itself, a "freeze" isn't ominous. History provides context:
In 1829, an undisciplined mob of office-seekers promised patronage jobs in President Andrew Jackson's new administration descended on Washington. Many were rewarded, because Jackson introduced the "spoils system" in which career civil servants were replaced by political appointees.

Beginning with the Pendleton Act of 1883, civil service reform was supposed to eliminate Jacksonian-style patronage by creating a merit system to provide efficient, corruption-free government overseen by experts. It no longer works, if it ever did.

Only the most gullible and/or partisan among us believe that most of today's massive bureaucracy is either expert or politically-neutral. Americans are ruled by nameless, faceless, unelected, unaccountable, often-ideological mandarins.

In a 1977 speech, Ronald Reagan said:

"Beginning with… the Great Depression, we…have turned more and more to government for answers that government has neither the right nor the capacity to provide. But government…always tends to increase in size and power, not just this government -- any government. … And so government attempted to provide the answers.

"The result is…a vast federal bureaucracy…of enormous power which determines policy to a greater extent than any of us realize, very possibly to a greater extent than our own elected representatives. And it can't be removed from office by our votes."

America is largely governed by a so-called "Deep," or administrative state -- bureaucrats entrenched in the executive and intelligence agencies whose power lies in regulation, obstruction and the control of government secrets. This permanent administrative state, not expressly authorized by the Founders, is unaccountable to voters and out of control.

Congressional lawmaking is a constitutional process. Elections permit voters to influence legislation. But administrative and regulatory "law" -- neither acts of Congress or the courts -- is completely beyond voters' reach. Bureaucratic attempts at legislation should remain null sans congressional review and approval.

It was once normal for civil servants to take direction from the political appointees who serve as proxies for elected presidents. But Environmental Protection Agency government employees actively lobbied the Senate to reject Trump's EPA nominee not because Secretary Scott Pruitt was ethically unfit or lacked qualifications, but because Pruitt opposed Obama-era EPA policies.
There are countless examples of ideological bias, obstruction, overreach and illegal leaks at/from the IRS, the Departments of Justice, State, Education, Labor, HUD, Homeland Security and the intelligence agencies.

Feeling threatened, the unelected Deep State and its allies in media, academia and the Democratic Party want Mr. Trump driven from office before his term is complete. So do some big-government establishment Republicans.
If American citizens want their votes to count, they must loudly demand, insist on civil service and regulatory reform, and effective oversight.

http://www.ldnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/04/05/deep-state-reform-imperative/100066900/


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