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Assault on America, Day 84: Trump’s America is hot and cold and satisfied and dissatisfied

Trump Economy is Booming
Think about it… is it possible to be hot and cold at the same time? Or, can you simultaneously be both satisfied and dissatisfied?

Many conservatives and Republicans experience the conundrum these days, a sense of fulfillment at the positive direction of the economy and country under the presidency of Donald Trump, yet reality takes some of the contentment away. Most objective indicators show the policies and pronouncements of the Trump administration to be working like a charm, but just below the surface there are signs we still have a long way to go.

Take the size of government bureaucracy, for example. With all the good things happening at high levels one might speculate we’re making progress on reducing the scope of the federal leviathan. Unfortunately, it’s not true. In fact, the federal workforce is expanding. Stephen Dinan reported at The Washington Times, “President Trump took office with a vision of slashing the federal workforce. Instead, he’s about to send it to levels never seen before.

“In budget documents … the administration predicted it would employ the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million workers at civilian agencies next year, shattering all previous records. While those numbers are artificially high because of the 2020 census, which will add some 60,000 new temporary workers, it’s still much higher than President Barack Obama in 2010, the year of the last census.

“Mr. Obama’s numbers that year were also inflated by his stimulus package, which pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy to try to lift it from the Wall Street crash and 2008 recession. Mr. Trump has no such economic pressures, and the private-sector job market is roaring — making the growth of federal jobs all the more striking for a president who took office with a hiring freeze and told agency chiefs to look for places to cut.”

Limited government proponents cheered when Trump signed the hiring freeze in his first week in office but it lasted just three months. Dinan’s article indicated a few federal departments (Treasury, Agriculture and Interior) actually shrunk but other agencies (Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Defense) are growing like dandelions in springtime. Granted some increases were essential to accommodate greater emphasis on the military, border security and care for America’s aging veterans, but overall the numbers are staggering and…frightening.

In times when the unemployment rate is so low businesses frantically search for qualified help it’s disheartening to see government actively competing for what is surely a good slice of the available and capable bodies. Every new rookie who signs on with Uncle Sam is one less pair of hands that could otherwise be set to performing private sector tasks. This isn’t to say federal employees waste time while drawing high salaries and accumulating generous benefits, but there’s little doubt many of these folks would do better generating wealth for the economy rather than soaking up taxpayer dollars like a bone dry sponge.

The federal deficit grows by the minute (well over $22.1 trillion and counting!) and a huge chunk of annual expenditures is paying salaries and benefits to government workers. Not only are these people technically placed on the government dole when they fill out their personnel papers, many of them sign up for life. With lifespans increasing and retirement ages dropping, these same people sometimes draw thirty or so years of pension payments after they leave the federal force (and they don’t have traditional 401Ks, either).

In other words, if a guy or gal commits to the government in his or her twenties its more than plausible he or she will receive a federal check for five, six or maybe even seven decades total. The same problem exists at state and local levels too, though many of the smaller government entities also must contend with spending caps or mandatory budget balancing laws. Would Congress ever agree to restrain itself in this manner?

Heck no! There are other ways it shows up, too. Here in the Washington DC area home prices hardly ever decrease (good for us homeowners) because there’s always heavy demand for places to live. My neighborhood is loaded with federal employees. Nice folks! But the alphabet soup of agencies they work for is demanding to keep track of. And I’ve lost count on the number of security clearance checks I’ve participated in for local feds I’ve never met nor even know their names.

“Hi, I’m from the Office of Personnel Management and I have just a few questions about your neighbor such-and-such. Your responses are confidential and the information won’t be shared (I guess this is meant to reassure us…?). Have the police ever visited John Q. Public’s house? Any other disturbances? Anything out of the ordinary ever take place at the residence? Has the individual said anything to you that indicates potential disloyalty to the United States?”

Me: “Would this include Democrat party membership? Kidding…”

Sometimes investigators are so desperate for interview input (to use for their reports) they’ll even stand on the front porch while you’re busy trimming the front shrubs. But bureaucracy is bureaucracy. Can’t do anything about it, right?

Not necessarily. Apparently, thanks to the ongoing VA scandal, the Trump administration and Congress instituted reforms making it easier to terminate problem employees, but it hasn’t helped reduce the overall numbers. Something bigger and better must occur to make strides in shrinking the bureaucracy. But who will lead it? If outsider President Donald Trump can’t prime the swamp pumps, who will? Joe Biden? Jeb Bush? “Pocahontas” Warren?

Couldn’t Congress pass measures that make it less attractive to spend an entire career in federal civil service? There will always be demand for great people to administer the nation’s laws and keep citizens safe, but why does it have to be a lifetime thing? Would something like simple “term limits” work in certain federal departments? It’s easy to see how such a policy would generate problems, but none of them top the growing national debt and urgent need for someone to do something about wanton government overspending before it’s too late.

President Trump is trying, but it’s a tall hill to climb. Not only is he battling a determined Democrat resistance to his presidency, he’s also up against the intransigent establishment leadership of his own party. Washington swamp creatures don’t like being told what to do and Trump’s not making a lot of friends among the elite political class.

Even when Democrat leaders claim they’re not interested in going forward with impeachment, their party supporters aren’t satisfied. Liberal pundit Juan Williams wrote last week, “Respectfully, Speaker Pelosi, the Constitution says Congress has a duty to impeach the president if it finds that he has committed ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ There is no exception stating ‘unless it divides the country.’

“And Pelosi can’t stop the approaching 2020 primaries.

“Aided by the subpoena power of House Democrats, new information about the president’s business dealings, both foreign and domestic, is likely to raise eyebrows during the campaign, even among Trump’s myopic loyalists.”

That Juan, he’s such a kidder. Here’s thinking those “eyebrows” will stay unraised because the cavalcade of investigations led by Democrats like Adam “Shifty” Schiff and spurred on by discredited lightweights Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are roads to nowhere. If Democrats are to succeed at impeachment -- or anything else -- they’d better produce more persuasive voices than the ones they’re currently offering.

Trump’s enemies practice a particularly vile brand of naked politics targeting an unusual president who’s proven remarkably adept at keeping his campaign promises. That’s how Republicans remain satisfied… even when they’re dissatisfied with particular parts of the picture.

So yes, it’s possible to be hot and cold at the same time and both satisfied and dissatisfied simultaneously. Not everything President Trump’s done in his first two years made America great again but he’s definitely on the right track. “Haters gonna hate”; the rest is up to us.

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