Thursday, November 17, 2016
The starting point isn’t muddled at all: taxpayers want smaller, leaner, more efficient government – but federal government bureaucrats want a bigger and more bloated government.
According to an exposé published in The Hill, federal bureaucrats donate to Democrats at a 90%-100% clip. The problem here is these federal bureaucrats are entirely dependent on taxpayers for their salaries, which creates a massive conflict of interest.
Their donations to Hillary Clinton represented, if nothing else, a vote for their own job security. These employees, every dollar of whose salaries comes out of the wallets of working Americans, have a vested interest in supporting candidates who are actively working against the interests of those same taxpaying Americans.
David Schultz, a Hamline University professor of political science, said “self-preservation” likely motivates their campaign giving. “This means support for their jobs,” because federal employees are likely “more willing to give to somebody who would be more predictable in terms of supporting their livelihood, their jobs, as opposed to somebody who might be less predictable.”
Taxpayers want smaller, leaner, more efficient government. Federal government bureaucrats, on the other hand, want a bigger and more bloated government which already pays them more than the average American worker and makes it virtually impossible for them to get fired, regardless of job performance (you can ask veterans who try to use the VA about that).
According to The Hill (emphasis mine),
Of the roughly $2 million that federal workers from 14 agencies spent on presidential politics by the end of September, about $1.9 million, or 95 percent, went to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, according to an analysis by The Hill.
Employees at all the agencies analyzed, without exception, are sending their campaign contributions overwhelmingly to Clinton over her Republican counterpart. Several agencies, such as the State Department, which Clinton once led, saw more than 99 percent of contributions going to Clinton.
Employees of the Department of Justice, which investigated Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State, gave Clinton 97 percent of their donations. Trump received $8,756 from DOJ employees compared with $286,797 for Clinton. From IRS employees, Clinton received 94 percent of donations.
This is quite obviously a pernicious and unacceptable state of affairs. The bias in what should be the utterly impartial Department of Justice is particularly odious (this is the outfit that let Hillary off the hook completely), as is the bias in the IRS. It is no wonder that the political efforts of ordinary Americans to get tax-exempt status for their Tea Party groups was spiked and frustrated at every turn.
The American people have a quite evident interest in seeing that government functionaries are limited in their ability to game the system against the fundamental interests of the American people.
When I served as chaplain of the Idaho Senate, one of the rules I voluntarily agreed to observe was that employees of the state government, even part-time ones, were not allowed to lobby for legislation. Period. This was something I had been accustomed to doing, and the left was ecstatic that I would be on ice for an entire legislative session (some of them wanted me to get a lifetime appointment for that reason).
The point is, the exercise of my freedom of speech and my freedom to petition the government for the redress of grievances was temporarily suspended during my term of service as a government worker.
Why? Because it was considered unseemly for someone being paid by taxpayers to directly influence legislation that would affect their own employ. The conflict of interest was obvious.
I was fine with that policy. My role changed from lobbyist to pastor for that session of the legislature, and I understood the privileges I would relinquish during that time. When my service as chaplain was completed, I put my lobbyist hat back on and went to work to help get a marriage amendment through that same legislature.
So what should be done at the federal level to curb this unseemly and unwise tilting of the political scales by bureaucrats? I floated the idea on my radio program this week – an idea I immediately shot down the next day – that we ask federal bureaucrats to temporarily yield the franchise as long as they are on the taxpayer dole, just as I yielded my constitutional right to freedom of speech and petition while drawing an income from taxpayers.
The right to vote is not absolute. It is reserved for those who are citizens, meet the age requirements, and aren’t convicted felons. But that possible solution is unworkable and unenforceable and would face legitimate constitutional challenges, which is why I scrapped it.
There are perhaps two other possibilities. The Hatch Act was passed to limit the ability of government employees to put their thumb on the political scale. It prohibits government workers from engaging in political activities, including making campaign contributions, while on the taxpayers’ clock.
Perhaps the Hatch Act could be amended in another way, to limit the size of the contributions federal bureaucrats are permitted make to candidates for federal office.
Limiting the size of donations to candidates is an already well-established principle, to keep the uber-wealthy from buying elections. Individuals are limited to contributing no more than $2,700 to one candidate in any election cycle, and even political action committees (PACs) are not allowed to directly donate more than $5,000 to any one candidate. There is no logical reason why that number cannot be reduced for federal bureaucrats, even to zero.
And it would have the advantage of being enforceable. You can ask conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza all about that. He pled guilty to violating federal campaign limits by using a straw donor, and was sentenced to eight months in a halfway house, five years’ probation, and a hefty $30,000 fine.
The other long-term alternative is to reduce the size of the federal behemoth by putting it in the hands of elected officials who truly believe in smaller government. They will be inclined to hire public servants who, if they donate to political campaigns at all, will be inclined to donate to candidates who will work on behalf of ordinary taxpayers rather than against them.
It’s worth noting again that the workers in 14 federal agencies gave 95% of their donations to a candidate committed to an ever larger and more bloated federal government. Donald Trump was elected to drain the swamp. It looks like the federal bureaucracy is the place to start.
Bryan Fischer hosts “Focal Point with Bryan Fischer” every weekday on AFR Talk (American Family Radio) from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. (Central).