And here comes the war on civil service, an essential bulwark against an authoritarian executive. With dumbass movie references. https://t.co/f3p0DjBe04— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) September 15, 2022
In late July, former President Donald J. Trump
seemed to endorse a recently unveiled plan by a cadre of his former staffers to strip tens of thousands of federal workers of their civil service protections and fire them at will under the next Republican administration.
Trump spoke Tuesday at an event hosted by the America First Policy Institute, a think tank founded by former staffers in his administration. His speech came on the heels of an Axios report last week that former White House aides are planning to revive the controversial Schedule F, a job classification system that would take current federal workers in “policy-related” positions out of the competitive service, stripping them of civil service protections and making them effectively at-will employees.
Schedule F was authorized via executive order in October 2020, but the Trump administration failed to implement the measure before he left office in January 2021. One of President Biden’s first acts as president was to rescind the edict.
“We need to make it much easier to fire rogue bureaucrats who are deliberately undermining democracy or, at a minimum, just want to keep their jobs,” Trump said. “They want to hold onto their jobs. Congress should pass historic reforms empowering the president to ensure that any bureaucrat who is corrupt, incompetent or unnecessary for the job can be told—did you ever hear this—‘You’re fired, get out, you’re fired.’ [You] have to do it. Deep state. Washington will be an entirely different place.”
Those involved in the effort to revive Schedule F told Government Executive last week that they have identified 50,000 federal employees that could be fired under the proposed new authority, although they hope to fire only a fraction of that total to create a “chilling effect” to keep the rest of them in line.
Schedule F was reviled by members of both parties, as well as good government groups, academics and federal employee unions, when it was unveiled in 2020. But lawmakers failed to act at the time to prevent its implementation, with Republicans and some members of Democratic leadership concluding that it would go away once Trump left office. Some experts warned it would return in some form with the next Republican administration.
Oh, it will, because if the next Republican administration begins in January of 2025. it very likely will be President Trump or President DeSantis, both would-be authoritarians. The employees will all be expected to think and act exactly as the head of state expects them to, under penalty of being fired- or worse.
It's not sexy or astonishing like an insurrection or threatening the life of FBI agents. But implementation of the ideas held by Donald Trump or Marjorie Taylor Greene about the federal workforce would put the nation well on its way to autocracy.