Fri, Sep 15, 2023 2:49 PM
By Brett Rowland, The Center Square
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy recently detailed what he said would be a litmus test for members of his cabinet: Are you ready for mass layoffs at your agency?
Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old entrepreneur enjoying heightened visibility after a breakout performance at the first GOP debate, has laid out his plan for reducing the federal workforce by 75%.
By contrast, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, another Republican presidential candidate trailing former President Donald Trump in the polls, has proposed cutting the federal civilian workforce by 10%.
Ramaswamy said agency heads must be ready for mass layoffs.
"I think it should be a litmus test for anyone who serves in a cabinet-level position," he said during a speech Wednesday at the America First Policy Institute in Washington D.C. "That agency head is prepared to carry out mass layoffs – large reductions in force."
The Cabinet is an advisory body made up of the heads of the 15 executive departments:
U.S. Department of Agriculture (nearly 100,000 employees)Department of Commerce (about 41,000 employees)Department of Defense (1.4 million active duty military, more than 700,000 civilian personnel and 1.1 million reservists)Department of Education (about 4,200 employees)Department of Energy (more than 100,000 federal and contract employees)Department of Health and Human Services (about 65,000 employees)Department of Homeland Security (more than 250,000 employees)Department of Housing and Urban Development (about 9,000 employees)Department of the Interior (about 70,000 employees, 200,000 volunteers)Department of Justice (about 115,000 employees)Department of Labor (about 15,000 employees)Department of State (about 30,000 employees)Department of Transportation (nearly 55,000 employees)Department of the Treasury (more than 100,000 employees)Department of Veterans Affairs (about 235,000 employees)
Ramaswamy said that as leader of the executive branch, he would have the authority, through his Cabinet heads, to make such layoffs happen.
"If somebody works for you and you can't fire them, that means they don't work for you," he said. "It means you work for them because you are responsible for what they do without any authority to actually change it."
Ramaswamy said he would shutter the FBI (about 35,000 employees); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (5,099 employees); the U.S. Department of Education (about 4,200 employees); the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (about 3,000 employees); and the Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Services (about 1,500 employees).
Under Ramaswamy's plan, some 15,000 FBI employees would be moved other agencies such as the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service, Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Drug Enforcement Administration, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security.
"Part of the problem when you have bureaucracy that runs this deep is that they find things to do that they shouldn't have been doing in the first place," he said.
Ramaswamy also would shut down the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the Department of Education's responsibilities would be moved to other agencies as part of Ramaswamy's plan. Same with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Food and Nutrition Services and ATF.
"This is just the beginning of the list of federal agencies that we will shut down or downsize by 75% or more," Ramaswamy said. "This begins to give you at least a preview of what the new administration starting in January 2025 can actually begin to do."