Are US Government Employees Getting In Your Way?

GOP Presidential Candidates Think They Are

Second GOP Presidential Debate
Top Eleven Candidates Face Off in Second GOP Debate at Ronald Reagan Center. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News

It surely can’t help boost federal employees’ ever-falling moral to hear the Republican presidential candidates say that the best thing they can do for the American people is go away.

As the public’s approval and trust of the federal government reach new lows, consider these remarks from the candidates in the second Republican presidential debate on September 16.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, speaking on how he would empower the American people to mold the government: “I will be the vessel through which they can fix this country, but it’s not about me.

It’s about all of you and getting this government off your back and out of your way…”

Ohio Governor John Kasich on pretty much the same thing: “It’s really time that the government get out of the way, and let the people be the ones who decide how they want to run their country…”

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, just pilling on now:  “I think that’s one of the things that people so vehemently want to get rid of, big government. You know, we have 4.1 million federal employees.”

Of course, candidates, We the People have and still do decide what kind of government we want, which is how we have ended up with a big government full of programs dedicated to taking care of us from the cradle to the grave, which takes a lot of workers.

And yes, Dr. Carson, there are 4.1 million federal employees, but that includes 617,000 Postal Service workers and 1.4 million active duty members of the U.S. military, none of whom have anything to do with the Executive Branch regulatory agencies whose growing mountain of law-like federal regulations often actually do get in our way.

Ever More of Us Than Them

And whether you believe there are too many of them or not, the number of federal government workers being hired is not keeping up with the number of “us” to be cared for. According to a report from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the U.S. population has grown by 66% since the 1960s, while the number of federal workers has grown by only 9%.

Over the same time period, the private sector workforce increased 131% and state and local government workforces increased by 127%, excluding education-related employees.

“The size of the Federal civilian workforce relative to the country’s population has declined dramatically over the past several decades, with occasional upticks due, for example, to military conflicts and the administration of the Census,” wrote the OMB.

Scott Walker vs. the Government Worker Unions

GOP candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, is particularly interested in taking down the large unions representing federal employees.

“We took on the big [Wisconsin state] government union bosses, the big government special interests, many of whom came in from Washington,” he said in the debate.

Walker, went on to promise to “work with Congress to eliminate big-government, federal unions,” which he said “should have no place in the federal workplace.”

“President Franklin D. Roosevelt put it best when he said that union bargaining ‘cannot be transplanted into the public service,’” Walker added.

But wait, there’s more. Walker also vowed to “stand in solidarity with any governor, Republican or Democrat, who fights the big-government special interests in their state and takes on collective bargaining reform like I did in Wisconsin.”

So let the record show, Gov. Walker hates him some unions.

Days before the debate, he released a plan he called “Power to the People – Not the Union Bosses,” in which he wrote “the federal government should not be forcing federal employees to fund the big-labor political agenda.”

But just for the record, federal employees have never been forced to join or contribute to unions. Membership in unions for federal workers remains completely voluntary.

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Your Citation
Longley, Robert. "Are US Government Employees Getting In Your Way?" ThoughtCo, May. 17, 2016, Longley, Robert. (2016, May 17). Are US Government Employees Getting In Your Way? Retrieved from Longley, Robert. "Are US Government Employees Getting In Your Way?" ThoughtCo. (accessed November 23, 2017).