Let’s Make a Deal

Donald Trump as an entrepreneur was famous as a great negotiator of business deals. Obviously, he has many wins in his long career. Yes, he had some losses as do ALL entrepreneurs. But his wins far outnumbered his losses.

Donald Trump as U.S. President has in just two years put together an impressive list of deals he has negotiated that far exceed most if not every one of his predecessor. The difference is that the current media seldom give him credit for those negotiated deals: tax cuts, unemployment numbers, GDP numbers, massive increase in federal revenue, historical achievements in success in keeping businesses from leaving the U.S. and attracting those who left to return, etc. I saw not a single mention of his signing a bill yesterday that because of his efforts reduced the cost of prescription medications for Americans.

To that end, there is a question in the air about the current partial shutdown of the federal government. Could Donald Trump — the “President” and “Deal-Maker-in-Chief” — have instigated the shutdown for a specific reason other than the obvious one and the one so necessary: to fund a southern border wall and the enhancement of border security? 

A “Theory”

Has President Trump suckered Democrats and the Deep State into a trap that will enable a radical downsizing of the federal bureaucracy?  In only five more days of the already “longest government shutdown in history” (25 days and counting, as of today), an obscure threshold will be reached, enabling permanent layoffs of bureaucrats furloughed 30 days or more.

Don’t believe me that federal bureaucrats can be laid off?  Well, 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.

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.  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:

  • When agencies furlough employees for more than 30 calendar days or 22 discontinuous work days, they must use RIF procedures.
  • An employee can be terminated or moved into an available position.

This seems to be what was referenced in this remarkable essay written by an “unidentified senior Trump official” published in the Daily Caller, which vouches for the authenticity of the author and explains that it is protecting him from adverse career consequences should the name become known. The purported senior official makes the case that devotion to “process” eats up most of the time of federal bureaucrats and is also used by enemies of President Trump’s initiatives to stymie the legitimate orders issued by his senior officials:

“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.”

Then the senior official notes what I have just called the “trap:”

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.

Those officials who waste time and stymie the president’s initiatives now are not present because they are not categorized as “essential.” 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.

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.

You can expect lawsuits on every conceivable point, and I suspect that the definition of “furlough” will be one matter of dispute.

If this was the plan all along, it would explain why President 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? President Trump has proven that he is a “disruptor” who changes the framework of thinking on major issues by refusing to accept the “givens” – the assumptions of how things always have been done and therefore always must be done.

So who is the “senior official?”  I don’t know, but I think Stephen Miller is the sort of bold thinker who might volunteer to telegraph the strategy just five days before the deadline.  Give Chuck and Nancy something to think about and probably reject as unthinkable.  Then they can’t complain that they weren’t warned once the trap is sprung.

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.

Summary

There is no doubt that this shut-down negatively impacts millions in the nation, including the 800,000 workers that have been forced to the sidelines. But the question remains: how many of those 800,000 really need to be employed by the People? No one knows yet the correct answer to that question. There are certainly many opinions on the matter just as on all other political issues. But many of those opinions are based not on any factual justification other than their being filled by working Americans. And the dilemma created “if” those positions were eliminated as illustrated above is simply the creation of unemployed workers.

The economics of that hypothetical is far-reaching and uncertain. As the examples above disclose, it was made it clear that far too many federal workers are not really workers, but have cush jobs with little necessity for existing other than to find ways to perpetuate their jobs and retirements at taxpayer expense. What would those people do if “RIF’d?”

There’s no real all-in-one solution that immediately comes to mind. We have seen in the past the chaos for workers that have been kicked to the curb when large companies close-up shop in the U.S. headed for tax-friendly, employer-friendly foreign countries. The fix would not be an easy one. And we far too often have watched the devastating impact rising unemployment numbers have made in this country. And that’s not even considering the horrors for those out-of-work employees and their families.

But wait a minute: didn’t the U.S. Department of Labor issue a report several weeks ago that stated there are far more jobs available across the nation than there are people to fill them? 6.9 million, to  be exact, as of January 9, 2019. Obviously, it would be ridiculous to say “None of those furloughed federal workers will have trouble finding a job: there are 6.9 million to choose from!” Considerations like job type and location of those empty jobs, employee qualifications, compensation packages, etc., would certainly prevent a simple “walkover” for these former 800,000 federal employees. But this highlights a systemic problem that has epidemically grown the federal government into what it is today: a giant bureaucratic monster that devours everything in site — especially taxpayer dollars!

These numbers further illustrate the picture that entrepreneurs “see” and use in their pursuit of building new businesses or finding existing businesses they turn into profitable enterprises. The fruit of those enterprises is more revenue than the costs to operate those businesses.

While in this conversation we need to be certain to not lose sight of the specific and stated reason for this partial shut-down: the refusal of Democrat members of the House of Representatives to consider and provide funding for the same enhanced border security measures that these same Democrat House members voted for multiple times under previous presidents.

To that end and in closing: why has no member of this “great” American media interviewed Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to ask this question: “Ms. Speaker and Mr. Minority Leader, why do you not support a southern border wall or barrier today when in previous Congressional sessions you each vocally supported and voted for bills that would have taken the exact same measures? Ms. Pelosi, why is the currently proposed border wall immoral when the border walls you previously voted for were mandatory for the safety of Americans?”

It’s sad enough that they have taken this position solely to prevent this President from achieving another objective to move the country forward in total disregard of the safety of Americans. To totally ignore the lives of the Americans they each swore an oath to protect is a blight on the Democrat Party and other Democrats in Congress. The statistics that show the hundreds of thousands of serious crimes at the hands of illegals and Democrat leadership refusing to implement safety measures to sto it solely for political purposes is reprehensible.

I wonder why the national media ignores their flip-flops and will not question Pelosi or Schumer in a national forum? CNN might gain enough viewers to sneak back on top of MSNBC. It would take at least a few hundred more!

 

Many thanks to Robert Lifton

 

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