Creating Federal Jobs Outside the Beltway

Republican Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee recently proposed a new bill, as yet unnumbered, to move 90% of federal agency jobs out of Washington, D.C.  Dubbed the HIRE bill, Helping Infrastructure Restore the Economy Act would move some federal departments  and jobs into the heartland and economically distressed regions throughout the country.

Even before the bill was released, Senator Hawley began receiving backlash from the drive-by media just for defending the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to move two sub-agencies to Kansas City, Missouri to be near the communities they serve.  In a press release Hawley is quoted as saying: “Every year Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars fund federal agencies that are mainly located in the D.C. bubble.  That’s a big part of the problem with Washington – they’re too removed from the rest of America.”  For that remark Hawley was called a phony and anti-Semitic.

Moving jobs outside of the D.C. bubble would create thousands of jobs for local communities and save taxpayers billions of dollars, according to Hawley.  All Americans would benefit as the move would cut high costs associated with D.C. and allow more opportunities for people throughout the country to have access to better paying jobs.   Sounds like a great common sense idea to me which, as you probably have already guessed, means it doesn’t stand a chance of passing.

The Senators propose to move the Department of Education to Tennessee; the Department of commerce to Pennsylvania; the Department of Energy to Kentucky;  Health and Human Services to Indiana;  HUD to Ohio; the Department of the Interior to New Mexico; the Department of Labor to West Virginia; the Department of Transportation to Michigan and Veterans Affairs to South Carolina.

Research shows that federal employees earn 17% more than their private-sector counterparts on average plus, it has reached a point that the only way a government employee can be terminated is if they die.  This brings me to a much needed amendment to the HIRE Act!  We need to eliminate automatic pay raises and union representation, allow deadbeats to be fired without an act of Congress and allow merit raises for employees as an incentive to do a good job.

According to Just Facts, compensation for federal, state, and local government employees cost U.S. taxpayers $1.9 trillion in 2016, or an average of $15,176 from every household in the United States.  You can only imagine what that is today.

A 2017 Congressional Budget Office study compared the compensation of full-time, year-round private sector workers to non-postal, civilian, federal workers in 2011 to 2015.  Accounting for education, occupation, work experience, geographic location, employer size, and various demographic characteristics, the study found that federal employee compensation premiums ranged from a low of 18% for employees with professional degrees or doctorates to a high of 53% for workers with only a high school diploma or less.

There have been slightly more than 2 million civilian federal workers on the nation’s payroll since the 1950s.  But here’s the catch:  There are now 3.7 million contract and grant workers which is far greater than the 2.1 million on the civilian payrolls or the 1.3 million military personnel on active duty. Much of the increase came from the ramp up for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and increased security efforts at home.  But don’t expect those numbers to decrease.  Washington is never known for cutting anything.   

Chris Edwards, the director of tax policy studies at Cato Institute and editor, has started referring to the contract worker boom as the rise of the “beltway bandits.”  Edwards says no one talks about the “beltway bandits” because there’s no official government tally of how many contract workers there are.  And, of course, it’s easier to hide the cost if no one has an exact count.

Source:  Senate GOP bill seeks to move 90% of jobs in 10 federal departments outside D.C.,  The Washington Times; Trump’s big challenge: Cutting federal workers, CNN Business

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