Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy says he would eliminate five federal agencies if elected.
Ramaswamy, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, says he is eyeing the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, and the Commerce Department, Axios first reported Wednesday. The Republican hopeful also targets the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“The CEO, the leader of the executive branch, does indeed have the authority to decide who is and is not hired in the executive branch,” Ramaswamy said Wednesday in a speech at the America First Policy Institute. “Speaking as a CEO, if somebody works for you and you can’t fire them, that means they don’t work for you. It means you work for them.”
Pulling the plug on the six government agencies would mean a 75% reduction in the 2.2 million civilian employees in the federal workforce over four years, the candidate said.
Other Republican presidential candidates have talked about the need to rein in the federal bureaucracy, including former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Ramaswamy argued during his speech at the think tank started by former Trump administration officials that under civil service laws a president could fire a mass number of employees if it’s under an official reduction in force. He contended that those laws prevent firing only individual employees.
“Large-scale mass layoffs are exactly what we will bring to the D.C. bureaucracy, both because it is necessary and because it is sanctioned by the law of the United States of America,” Ramaswamy said.
He said he was separating myth from fact about federal personnel law. He said the myth has misguided presidents from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump.
He would ensure that Cabinet secretaries and other agency heads who are presidential appointees would be required to carry out such layoffs, Ramaswamy added.
“I think it should be a litmus test for anybody who serves in a Cabinet position, a litmus test, that that agency head is prepared to carry out mass layoffs, large reductions in force, as laid out in the statute,” he said.
However, Ramaswamy said, if those presidential appointees didn’t act, federal law “does give the duly elected president of the United States the power to single-handedly execute those large-scale layoffs.”
In an interview with Axios, he also said that “30% of these employees are eligible for retirement in the next five-year period.”
“So it is substantial—no doubt about it—but it’s not as crazy as it sounds,” he told the outlet.
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