(The Center Square) – Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy wants to limit government bureaucrats to eight-year terms, a proposal that would result in sweeping changes for federal employees.
Ramaswamy, 38, has gained prominence after his two high-profile debate performances and his bold plans for the federal government.
Ramaswamy has proposed cutting 75% of the federal workforce by the end of his first term if elected president. He said 50% of those cuts could be made in his first year. That plan is aimed not only at reducing costs, but at ending what he calls the “administrative state.”
Ramaswamy’s plan for term limits for federal workers further seeks to address that problem, said Zachery Henry, deputy director of communications for Ramaswamy’s campaign.
“Vivek strongly supports eight-year term limits for Washington D.C. bureaucrats, with a select few exceptions,” he told The Center Square. “As a matter of fact, he wants to get most of them out of the swamp and away from the muck and stench of the deep state in DC.”
Ramaswamy also wants to get rid of public-sector unions and end protections for civilian employees, turning many federal positions into at-will jobs that are easier to terminate.
“Since Vivek believes a small percentage of bureaucrats are actually getting work done for the American people, he’s going to fire 75% of the federal workforce, impose those term limits for federal bureaucrats, move most of them out of Washington, and end collective bargaining,” Henry said. “As Vivek always says, ‘if you can’t fire someone, they don’t work for you – you work for them.’ Thankfully those days are over once Vivek becomes President.”
Limits on the length of government employment could pose challenges for federal recruitment and retention.
“I think it is designed to hurt retention and recruitment,” Jacqueline Simon, director for policy in the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union representing 750,000 workers, told The Center Square.
She said recruitment and training could prove costly under Ramaswamy’s plan, depending on the details and if extensions would be granted.
“Experience is valuable in all professions,” she said, noting that experience can lead to improved performance.
A federal government stacked with temporary and term-limited employees could backfire.
“We argue that it is not a particularly constructive plan,” Simon said.
The federal government employs about 2.25 million military personnel. About 1 million of those are reservists. The federal government has about 2.25 million civilian personnel. About 60% of those employees work for the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Simon said having each U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent and each U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employee find a new job after eight years would create challenges for those agencies, along with others.
Ramaswamy was polling at 6.5% on Oct. 2, 2023. He’s trailing former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley (8.1%), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (14.5%) and former President Donald Trump (53.8%) in the polls for the Republican nomination, according to FiveThirtyEight.