The state of the shutdown

There is little doubt that the reason the Dems wish to postpone the State of the Union while the “shutdown” is in place is because their case is weak enough already and the last thing they want to do is give the President another forum to harangue them with. Since honesty in reporting is a thing of the past, assuming it had ever existed at all, knowing where the national sentiment really is becomes impossible to gauge. But what we do know is that PDT has the most astonishing political will ever known to American politics, and while he might give in, no one should count on it.

The article puts a different perspective on things and is about Trump’s shutdown trap? – how after 30 days of “furlough” Federal employees can be reassigned or even sacked. We shall see, and it certainly helps to explain why the President has been as strong as he has been, but what I found more interesting is the depiction of the way the public “service” operates. These are depictions from someone who has been infuriated by the actions of the public service in frustrating Trump’s agenda. The quotes are taken from here: I’M A SENIOR TRUMP OFFICIAL, AND I HOPE A LONG SHUTDOWN SMOKES OUT THE RESISTANCE.

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….

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….

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. (snip)

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.

You should read the entire article at the second link above. It is an amazing contest of wills, with the Republicans for the first time in memory withstanding everything being thrown their way. Plus a reminder of what this is actually about.

 

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23 Responses to The state of the shutdown

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    The fascinating Pew poll I linked on the OT this morning shows the problem for the Republican hierarchy: those voters who are Republicans or lean Republican overwhelmingly want the Wall.

    If the GOP elites do not deliver then all those voters are going to walk away in disgust.

    It is an existential crisis for the Republican Party. If they fail they die politically. Trump won’t have destroyed them, they will have committed seppuku in the bloodiest and most stupid way imaginable.

  2. Fibro

    Sounds much like the Australian Public Service.

    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….

  3. stackja

    FDR created a partisan environment. Truman had to order a loyalty program. Ike may have blinked. JFK/LBJ resumed business as usual.

  4. Infidel Tiger

    Since when have the GOP ever cared what their voters think?

  5. bespoke

    This love of Process infects the smallest committees.

  6. If the GOP elites do not deliver then all those voters are going to walk away in disgust.

    Shades of the LNP.

  7. Des Deskperson

    ‘Sounds much like the Australian Public Service.’

    Nope. Believe it or not, most of my former colleagues in policy development and program management areas did their work impartially and professionally. Whether this work needed to be done at all is another matter.

    Except at the very top, Australia does not have the same tradition of political meddling in public service appointments as the US does.

    On the other hand:

    ‘They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position… ‘

    describes the average worker in the much more politicised ACT Public Service and, I suspect, in other State and Territory jurisdictions.

  8. Confused Old Misfit

    describes the average worker in the much more politicised ACT Public Service and, I suspect, in other State and Territory jurisdictions.

    I have a close relative in the SA government service who could confirm your suspicions.

  9. Shy Ted

    As part of the Closing The Gap strategy a certain State health department is employing many Aboriginal people. No surgeons, no medics, no nurses, no allied health staff amongst them. We’ll get up to 85% of health staff doing nothing before we’re finished. That’ll show the Yanks.

  10. Dr Fred Lenin

    If this shutdown keeps going people will realise a huge number of public employees are not needed for the government to worl well . Bit like the old leftist SEC in Victoria when Kennet privatised it .it had been rife with featherbedding and strikes were common specially when the weather was extreme,it also lost money a monopoly losing money? . It actually made money which was looted by the pollies to keep themselves in the trough .After Kennet gave it the treatment thousands of superflous employees were made redundant,the companies who bought it made profits , and there hasnt been a strike for years . All went well untill the current crop of incompetents stuffed it over the lucrative bribes ridden climate scam Obeying carpetbaggers ,High Treason is rife in politics time they were punished . To the wooden wall with them .

  11. Confused Old Misfit

    I read some commentary from US sources that seems t think that, if the shutdown exceeds 30 days, that furloughed employees can be terminated. Or rather, I suppose, their positions can be declared redundant.
    Those so affected would have to be paid up to their severance date plus the usual severance payments I would imagine.
    I’m not sure if this is actually true. But if it is, what a wonderful bargaining chip!

  12. Macspee

    Fred, from the time Jim Smith took over as CEO of the SEC he started to cut the numbers drastically against the wishes of the unions but to give them due the government saw the need . He reduced the staffing by tens of thousands and no one noticed. By the time Jeff got in the act the corporation was well on the way to being lean which meant the buyers got a great deal and the pain of retrenchment was largely done. Dead right that the Cain government ripped cash from the corporation to the extent of taking all and more of its reserves and tearing into its capital. Smith protested but no one was listening. Jim wanted to hive off the coal mines but the unions were wise to it and threatened the government so that the Coal Corporation was converted from an ordinary company to a statutory corporation. Not all of the corporations were complacent but found it hard to become lean mean corporations serving the public when faced with union featherbedding that they could not defeat.

  13. Des Deskperson

    ‘I read some commentary from US sources that seems t think that, if the shutdown exceeds 30 days, that furloughed employees can be terminated. Or rather, I suppose, their positions can be declared redundant’.

    My understanding is that this only applies in cases of ‘administrative furlough’, which I understand to be a situation where a US agency planning or undergoing a reorganisation can furlough possibly surplus staff while the exercise is underway and can then lay them off after a minimum of 30 days.

    It doesn’t apply in the case of ’emergency furlough’, where it is the result of outside factors beyond the control of the agency itself – in this case the shutdown. As I understand it, these furloughed staff retain the status of employee until the issue is resolved.

  14. Leo G

    US House of Reps Speaker Nancy Pelosi has now refused the President’s right to discharge his executive duty under the State of the Union Clause of the US Constitution and made false claims as justification.
    You never know how far desperate Democrats will go to get what they want.

  15. Richard Bender

    But what we do know is that PDT has the most astonishing political will ever known to American politics, and while he might give in, no one should count on it.

    Washington led a successful insurrection, Lincoln won a civil war, Roosevelt steered the US through WW2, Johnson took the US through the assassination of the American dream and Reagan stared down the USSR.

    When Trump does something of note, let us all know.

  16. Confused Old Misfit

    Thanks Des. Could the agency heads, in view of their agencies having continued to function without said furloughed staff, be directed to undertake a reorganization and continue to furlough staff for another thirty days, thereby achieving an overall staff reduction?
    Yes, two months wages plus the separation payments.
    Might well be worth it in the long run.

  17. Confused Old Misfit

    US House of Reps Speaker Nancy Pelosi has now refused the President’s right to discharge his executive duty under the State of the Union Clause of the US Constitution

    He could wangle an invitation to delivery the report in the Senate. ANd the Senate could invite the House of Representatives to attend.
    More likely, he’ll do it on TV and send a photo-copy to Nancy.
    Should do it live to air, from the Senate.

  18. Confused Old Misfit

    When Trump does something of note, let us all know.

    He got elected President of the United States of America on his first attempt.

  19. Leo G

    Washington led a successful insurrection …

    Washington even survived an assassination plot by his own security service. President Trump appears to be following historical footsteps.

  20. Des Deskperson

    ‘ Could the agency heads, in view of their agencies having continued to function without said furloughed staff, be directed to undertake a reorganization and continue to furlough staff for another thirty days, thereby achieving an overall staff reduction?’

    A good question, CoM.

    I’m by no means an expert on US federal government employment arrangements or US employment law in general.

    When a US agency undertakes a downsizing exercise – a ‘reduction in force’ or RIF – there are certain principles it has to observe, factors it has to take into account and processes it has to go through in identifying who might have to be ‘laid off’.

    If I were a union rep or an employment lawyer, I’d be arguing that an emergency furlough resulting from factors outside the agency’s control is an entirely separate issue to a properly run RIF and shouldn’t have a bearing on lay off decisions.

    On the other hand, I see no legal reason why an agency couldn’t conduct an RIF during an emergency furlough, and I guess if someone had the balls…..

  21. Des Deskperson

    ‘ Could the agency heads, in view of their agencies having continued to function without said furloughed staff, be directed to undertake a reorganization and continue to furlough staff for another thirty days, thereby achieving an overall staff reduction?’

    CoM for some reason, my answer has gone to moderation.

    I’ll try again:

    A good question, CoM.

    I’m by no means an expert on US federal government employment arrangements or US employment law in general.

    When a US agency undertakes a downsizing exercise – a ‘reduction in force’ or RIF – there are certain principles it has to observe, factors it has to take into account and processes it has to go through in identifying who might have to be ‘laid off’.

    If I were a union rep or an employment lawyer, I’d be arguing that an emergency furlough resulting from factors outside the agency’s control is an entirely separate issue to a properly run RIF and shouldn’t have a bearing on lay off decisions.

    On the other hand, I see no legal reason why an agency couldn’t conduct an RIF during an emergency furlough, and I guess if someone had the nerve…..

  22. Confused Old Misfit

    and I guess if someone had the nerve…..

    Aye! There’s the rub!

  23. I recall a statistic from years ago stating that public service sector employees worked approx. 25% of the time. Working for the PMG in Qld. in the 60’s, one did not work faster to get the job done, slower pace was required otherwise reprimand from supervisor.

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