Jeb Bush’s 10% Solution

 

Jeb BushIt sounds like a good idea:

Portraying himself as a political outsider — despite his family’s 12 years in the White House — Mr. Bush called for a 10 percent reduction in the federal work force, an immediate hiring freeze, a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and a six-year waiting period before members of Congress can lobby on Capitol Hill.

Just so you don’t think Jeb! is a mean and heartless man, readying himself to flood DC with pink slips, his civil service trimming comes with an important caveat:

Mr. Bush said his policies could reduce the size of the federal work force by 10 percent in four years. Much of that, he said, would be accomplished through attrition and a strict system of replacing every three departing federal workers with one new employee.

It was often said of Mitt Romney that he spoke conservatism as a second language. It would be unfair to describe Jeb Bush in quite that way. Change his last name to Smith, and change his mind on Common Core, and you have, all in all, a pretty conservative guy. Yet his proposals have a focus group feel to them; they sounds like something he’s supposed to say.

Shrinking the number of people who work for the federal governments does not necessarily shrink the federal government. It’s easy enough to spend more money with fewer people handling it. It’s even easier to contract out government work to private companies. Does it really matter if the IRS’ own employees are harassing you, or if they’ve outsourced the bullying to someone else? President Jeb’s 10% rule won’t simply be broken; it’s going to get drop-kicked into oblivion.

The deeper you dig the less impressive Jeb’s proposals become. The balanced budget amendment has been a conservative chestnut for decades. Yet it’s gone precisely nowhere. If your job depends on bribing some people with other people’s money, including those yet unborn, it would be bad business to make your job much, much harder. No self-serving politician would vote for a balanced budget amendment. Since the self-serving make up a working majority of Congress and all 50 state legislatures the idea will remain a dead letter.

Extending the lobbying ban for ex-law makers is — admittedly — an interesting twist. But again the devil is in the details. If you stretch the definitions of “lobbyist” and “lobbying” far enough — safe in the knowledge that any oversight will come from people who are planning post-political careers on K Street  — the new law will be as useless as the current law. The source of lobbying isn’t lobbyists, it’s the massive size of the federal government. Until it gets hacked down to a manageable size curbs on lobbying are cosmetics for those who aren’t paying attention.

The word that comes to mind is disappointing. Even staunch critics of a possible Bush 3.0 presidency have to wonder why Jeb! is phoning it in so early in the cycle. When you get past the unimaginative nature of the proposals you’re left with a kind of cynical pandering to the base. There is that uneasy sense that the former Florida Governor is patting us on the head.

There are 31 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    ThunderYawn

    • #1
  2. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @MatthewSinger

    True, you need to tie it to the reduction of regulations and therefore the number of people needed to enforce them.

    • #2
  3. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    It’s a Fred Thompson candidacy with progressive lenses

    • #3
  4. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Shrinking the number of people who work for the federal governments does NOT necessarily shrink the federal government. It’s easy enough to spend more money with fewer people handling it. It’s even easier to contract out government work to private companies.

    Very true.

    Does it really matter if the IRS’ own employees are harassing you or if they’ve out sourced the bullying to someone else?

    Here, I think, the answer is ‘yes’. Not only does the IRS have a SWAT team, but it’s very, very difficult to get rid of. If harassment tax collection was outsourced to, say, accounting firms, they would know that if they caught too much political heat they could be removed. And PwC can’t send men with guns to your house.

    • #4
  5. Richard Anderson Member
    Richard Anderson
    @RichardAnderson

    genferei:Very true.

    Here, I think, the answer is ‘yes’. Not only does the IRS have a SWAT team, but it’s very, very difficult to get rid of. If harassment tax collection was outsourced to, say, accounting firms, they would know that if they caught too much political heat they could be removed. And PwC can’t send men with guns to your house.

    I’m not too sure about that. What happens when PwC gets authorization to use force and hires police contractors?

    • #5
  6. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Members of the Green Party overwhelmingly favor a different “10% solution”.

    • #6
  7. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    The problem is that you’ll remove 10% of the actual workers as well as the sluggards. In my shop we’re two call ins away from not being able to accomplish the mission. A bottle of Nyquil could put the ability of the Pacific submarine fleet to meet Stratcom assignments in jeopardy.

    Yes, government is too damned big, but we will only get ahead by eliminating illegitimate functions rather than axing the good along with the bad.

    • #7
  8. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    I still can’t get over his last name and will never get over his last name. For me that is a deal breaker so I don’t even have to worry about his policy proposals, I will never vote for a dynasty, that just isn’t America.

    • #8
  9. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Jeb is yelling “you’re fired”?

    Heh.

    • #9
  10. Jojo Inactive
    Jojo
    @TheDowagerJojo

    That is a silly lightweight idea.  According to this , federal employment peaked in the late 1960’s and is much lower now despite a larger national population.  The number of federal employees is not the problem, it’s the size of the budget and the debt, and what the money is spent on.  That proposal is a huge black mark against Jeb Bush in my book.

    • #10
  11. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Jojo:That is a silly lightweight idea. According to this , federal employment peaked in the late 1960′s and is much lower now despite a larger national population. The number of federal employees is not the problem, it’s the size of the budget and the debt, and what the money is spent on. That proposal is a huge black mark against Jeb Bush in my book.

    And lets not forget how much of the budget is untouchable as entitlements.

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @MattUpton

    Cutting the workforce by 10% works to reduce costs if you are a business, even a large business. But those cuts are usually strategic and immediate. The executives find departments that aren’t profitable and decide to work less in those areas.

    There is no analog to government because the government does not deal in profits and losses. At BEST funds allocated to a particular agency is based on a cost-benefit analysis. In reality, it’s a horrible mixture of political appointees spending everything they can to justify their baseline budget increase for the next year. No head of ANY agency will ever say, “We can get by with less.”

    In order to have effective cuts, you need someone who A) Knows well the working of the agency, B) Has power to redefine the mission and scope of the agency, C) Has incentive to shrink that agency. Please tell me how we get those three qualities in a single person, or even committee.

    Or, you just be a hard***, cut the budget, and know how to deal with the fallout when the Parks Service “closes” unmanned, open monuments.

    • #12
  13. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    This is a trial balloon quickly leaking helium.

    Where is the thorough analysis, department-by-department, on what departments and agencies can be trimmed, severely cut or eliminated altogether? Or at least a commitment to have a comprehensive plan ready to roll with in the first few weeks of his (or anyone else’s) presidency?

    I think it’s safe to say that reforming Social Security and Medicare isn’t happening unless Republicans control both the Executive and Legislative Branches. And that’s the biggest nut to crack.

    Do we really need a DHS? Or can the other national security agencies and entities function without it? Is DHS taking the credit on thwarted terrorists attacks or should the credit really go to the FBI and the NSA?

    The IRS needs to be emasculated and its current executive management replaced.

    Department of Education? It has 4,611 employees. Can it get along with 200? Or can it be eliminated altogether?

    The EPA has almost 19,000 employees. Are you kiddin’ me?!!

    Department of HHS? Can’t that be cut that down substantially? Do we need it at all? Can the sub-agencies under its umbrella function without it?

    And there are probably thousands of smaller entities that should disappear that probably don’t get much scrutiny from Congress at all.

    The VA is so corrupt it needs a complete overhaul. If you can’t fire those employees at least reassign them to cleaning up interstate highways or restrooms with toothbrushes in federal buildings until they quit. Replace them with veterans and others from the pool of 93 million adults who are talented but have had to resort to part-time work or have given up looking.

    At the same token, the armed forces – particularly the Navy and Air Force need substantial rebuilding. Being at pre-WWI levels only tempts China, Russia and Iran (thanks Obama and Kerry) to become even more adventurous.

    Of course, unless a Republican is elected none of this is happening. And unless the right Republican is nominated most of it isn’t happening. Okay, the corrupt VA workers can have bigger brushes.

    • #13
  14. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Richard Anderson: The source of lobbying isn’t lobbyists, it’s the massive size of the federal government. Until it gets hacked down to a manageable size curbs on lobbying are cosmetics for those who aren’t paying attention.

    Bingo.

    George Will may have struck out in Augustine’s thread, but he knocked it out of the park here:

    • #14
  15. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Much of that, he said, would be accomplished through attrition and a strict system of replacing every three departing federal workers with one new employee.

    I hear there’s a steady supply of cheap replacements streaming across the border. If you did same thing with the border patrol what an incredible savings you would generate. And what could possibly go wrong?

    • #15
  16. BuckeyeSam Inactive
    BuckeyeSam
    @BuckeyeSam

    “Change his last name to Smith, and change his mind on Common Core, and you have, all in all, a pretty conservative guy.”

    As long as you ignore that he’s an amnesty shill.

    • #16
  17. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    To be fair to him, he did address efficiency, not just the number of people on the payroll:

    Mr. Bush demanded changes to the Civil Service system that would make it far easier to punish and replace employees.

    “There are a lot of exemplary employees in the federal government, but they’re treated no better than the bad ones,” Mr. Bush said. “And the bad ones are almost impossible to effectively discipline or remove.”

    But he held out a carrot along with the stick: merit pay and bigger raises for high-performing workers and managers who save money for the government.

    • #17
  18. Sheila S. Inactive
    Sheila S.
    @SheilaS

    Z in MT:I still can’t get over his last name and will never get over his last name. For me that is a deal breaker so I don’t even have to worry about his policy proposals, I will never vote for a dynasty, that just isn’t America.

    Agreed. I just keep wondering why we have to keep running around the same circles. Is the talent pool of leaders in America so shallow that we need the Bush family to save us? Or is the reality rather that the GOP is so busy looking for name recognition and electability  that they neglect to support fresh ideas and leadership from other sources?

    • #18
  19. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    He had a good record as a governor of a large state.  He was conservative in his governance, which included cutting state employees and the cost of doing business in Florida. He brought down taxation.  Perfect?  No but then who is?  Good?  He was, but that was a decade ago and I don’t know if or how he has changed.

    • #19
  20. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    The problem is what government does.  That it costs is unfortunate but secondary.  The regulatory apparatus is killing the economy from the bottom up, squashing productivity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and most of the things that drive our future.  So take away their pens and their telephones, toss the regulatory code in the trash heap, and give them a year to find a job, get training for a new job,  and learn to look for a new job.  Keep some to help Congress write clear simple laws that fix accountability on the various sectors they are trying to manage through thousands of pages of regulations that nobody knows or understands and couldn’t work if they did.    Anything worth keeping that is not national security  related should be moved to the states with a few years of decreasing no strings attached funding.  Ok. now back to reality.  We cut 20% from from our little interagency multiple Department operation. All  agencies and their Departments fought it but we won because they didn’t really care, they just felt compelled to fight.  It became a happier more efficient place.  It’s easy..  Start at zero, attach every resource to an objective the agency or office identifies.  Of course when newly appointed Secretaries are told to present 30%, 20% and 10% theoretical cuts they are told that the first agency or office that presents only politically popular programs to cut are the first to lose their jobs.   Present cuts or letters of resignation.

    • #20
  21. Cantankerous Homebody Inactive
    Cantankerous Homebody
    @CantankerousHomebody

    donald todd:He had a good record as a governor of a large state. He was conservative in his governance, which included cutting state employees and the cost of doing business in Florida. He brought down taxation. Perfect? No but then who is? Good? He was, but that was a decade ago and I don’t know if or how he has changed.

    Except the left is steamrolling conservatives in the culture and where is Jeb there?  The left attacks without regard for personal shame, hypocrisy or decency.

    10% of federal employees is nothing.  The next democratic administration can rehire them and then some, they can reintroduce regulations and they can raise taxes.  Barack Obama wants to change the culture of America from the ground up; Jeb Bush wants a slightly smaller federal workforce and a slightly lower tax rate.

    • #21
  22. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    “The Liberty Medal is the millstone around his neck. Its Hillary’s precious. Bill has his interns.”

    • #22
  23. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    Richard Anderson:

    Just so you don’t think Jeb! is a mean and heartless man, readying himself to flood DC with pink slips, his civil service trimming comes with an important caveat:

    Mr. Bush said his policies could reduce the size of the federal work force by 10 percent in four years. Much of that, he said, would be accomplished through attrition and a strict system of replacing every three departing federal workers with one new employee.

    It was often said of Mitt Romney that he spoke conservatism as a second language. It would be unfair to describe Jeb Bush in quite that way. Change his last name to Smith, and change his mind on Common Core, and you have, all in all, a pretty conservative guy. Yet his proposals have a focus group feel to them; they sounds like something he’s supposed to say.

    Shrinking the number of people who work for the federal governments does not necessarily shrink the federal government. It’s easy enough to spend more money with fewer people handling it. It’s even easier to contract out government work to private companies. Does it really matter if the IRS’ own employees are harassing you, or if they’ve outsourced the bullying to someone else? President Jeb’s 10% rule won’t simply be broken; it’s going to get drop-kicked into oblivion.

    Yet Jeb’s  the only candidate  who has a record of actually reducing government payroll headcount. To me there is no other action that speak well of his Fiscal conservatism than he reduce the that total headcount  during his eight years as Governor when Florida was growing rapidly. What every criticism you can say about Jeb I challenge anyone to find a person with a more fiscally conservative record while in office. If all you care about fiscal reform then I am sorry Jeb should be your only choice. No-ones actions on this front are more outstanding.

    However I happen to believe we have bigger concerns that just fiscal. Give me unmanageable debt with no abortion and freedom from governmental tyranny any day of the week. Our for fathers did not die for riches but for freedom.

    • #23
  24. liberal jim Inactive
    liberal jim
    @liberaljim

    Jeb has hired almost all of his brothers advisors.

    • #24
  25. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    liberal jim:Jeb has hired almost all of his brothers advisors.

    Ghostbusters IV

    • #25
  26. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    I’m for keeping the number of Federal employees named Bush at the current figure of 2. No need for a 33.3% increase.

    • #26
  27. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Richard Anderson: Extending the lobbying ban for ex-law makers is — admittedly — an interesting twist. But again the devil is in the details. If you stretch the definitions of “lobbyist” and “lobbying” far enough — safe in the knowledge that any oversight will come from people who are planning post-political careers on K Street — the new law will be as useless as the current law. The source of lobbying isn’t lobbyists, it’s the massive size of the federal government. Until it gets hacked down to a manageable size curbs on lobbying are cosmetics for those who aren’t paying attention.

    This, for the Bush Network, would be the equivalent of pulling up the rope ladder to the treehouse. Safely ensconced will be all the existing lobbyists. Jeb!s people are already inside.

    • #27
  28. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Just 10%? Other candidates should see his 10% and raise him.

    Of course, no one is more qualified to put together a credible “You’re Fired!” commercial than The Donald.

    • #28
  29. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    What you people have to understand is that Bush is a reformer with results. He’s “the decider,” not just some academic or think tank talker. But don’t worry: Bush is not going to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Bush knows that when people are suffering, government has to move.

    “Those oldies but goodies reminds me of you,

    The songs of the past bring back memories of you.

    I’ll always remember the first night we met,

    The songs they were playing I never will forget.”

    (Little Caesar and the Romans: “Those Oldies But Goodies”)

    • #29
  30. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    Freesmith:What you people have to understand is that Bush is a reformer with results. He’s “the decider,” not just some academic or think tank talker. But don’t worry: Bush is not going to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Bush knows that when people are suffering, government has to move.

    “Those oldies but goodies reminds me of you,

    The songs of the past bring back memories of you.

    I’ll always remember the first night we met,

    The songs they were playing I never will forget.”

    (Little Caesar and the Romans: “Those Oldies But Goodies”)

    The Common Core “reforms” aren’t terribly impressive but of course, this reformer may have a financially vested interest in the program. I’ll be amazed if Jeb becomes the nominee.  – from one of “You People”.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.