Beating bureaucrats is bad politics

The Republican party could possibly retake control of the House in 2020 and might not have lost it in 2018 if more of its middle-America politicians learned a few things about federal bureaucrats and civil servants. Treating them as human beings, constituents and voters  with a 52-percent bachelor’s degree rate rather than as hogs at the trough would be a nice start.

The pols of both parties in many places would be wise to view and treat feds as gently as if they worked for Boeing or Amazon, or Walmart or Chick-fil-A. Some Democrats are guilty of ignoring their federal voters — except at some event — or taking them for granted. All who want to win and retain elective office should consider that feds are real people with real kids in real schools paying real mortgages and buying real groceries at a steady pace, except when their agencies are shut down or they are forced to work without pay. And that feds very likely vote at a much higher percentage than the general population.

They are people who happen to work for the Justice Department, IRS, Army, Navy or Air Force, and who are the dominant workforce in various cities from Washington, D.C., to Ogden, Utah; Huntsville, Alabama; and Tidewater, Virginia. Think of how many communities where the key employer is the Department of Veterans Affairs, Interior Department or your local military installation.

Over the years, and during the Clinton-Bush administrations, House Democrats and Republicans from the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia suburbs and other federal centers worked to protect the people and voters from the president. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) led numerous end runs around the Clinton White House to get feds bigger raises. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) did the same thing when the Bush administration tried to hold down federal pay raises. Each side worked in the interests of their constituents rather than their commander-in-chief. But times have, for whatever reason, changed, and it started well before President Donald Trump.

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This year, again, the White House proposed major changes in the federal retirement system, all of which are bad for current and future retirees. Unions and associations representing feds, from the executive level to retirement communities, estimate the proposed 2020 White House budget would cost feds and retirees benefits by $177 billion over the next 10 years. Even the GOP-controlled Senate, which has generally treated feds decently, this year produced a pension-chopping plan of its own. Democrats in control of the House say any proposals to chop up the Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System are dead-on-arrival. That’s probably true, but many active and retired civil servants and their families are nervous or disgusted by being treated as if they were the nation’s budgetary problem.

The fact is 85 percent of the federal workforce is well beyond the Beltway. The federal government is the chief employer in many places in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, South and North Carolina, Montana, Idaho — you name it. In many places with VA hospitals, IRS service centers, a major mail-moving-sorting facility or federal prison, Uncle Sam is the go-to-employer and engine of the local economy.

There is a reason the slogan “the beatings will continue until moral improves” is a gag favorite on T-shirts but not so funny in reality. And it doesn’t work. So a lot of politicians might be wise to re-examine the demographics of their home states or congressional district. If they want to remain on the federal pay and benefits role they say they are so anxious to trim.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

South Carolina had a ban on tattoo parlors from the 1960s until 2004 and in the 10 years since, more than 100 establishments opened across the state. Government officials feared it would lead to a disease outbreak like one which happened in New York, as well as unlawful behavior. But the businesses are still prohibited from opening within 1,000 feet of a church.

Source: The Post and Courier 

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