Democrats and some Republicans are no doubt looking at this news thinking that Tillerson, with the advice of the Office of Management and Budget, is ‘destroying jobs.’ Associated Press reported:
The proposal is a response to the Office of Management and Budget’s call to slash the State Department and USAID budgets by 31 percent through deep cuts to foreign aid and other programs, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the as-yet unreleased plan and requested anonymity.
In an interview with NPR that aired on Friday, Tillerson said he intended to reorganize the department to make it more efficient and focused.
“What we really want to do is examine the process by which the men and women — the career foreign service people, the civil servants, our embassies — how they deliver on that mission,” he said.
“We want to hear from them, we’re just about to embark on a departmentwide listening mission,” he said, adding later: “I look forward to hearing their ideas. Because I know there’s going to be opportunities to allow them to be more effective. Now, out of that we’ll determine what the State Department looks like.”
Two thousand three hundred jobs does seem like a lot of people getting fired.
First of all, the U.S. State Department has some 75,000 employees. So, 2,300 represents just a 3-percent staff cut.
The other thing is that they wouldn’t actually be fired. Some would be let go through attrition, and others would be offered a buyout package.
Government jobs are considered a sacred cow. In fact, anything the government does is considered sacred. In the private sector, people get laid off all the time. And while it’s terrible to be in that position of being let go, people understand that that is a part of life.
When companies find themselves in hard financial times, they’re forced to make tough decisions. They can cut people’s hours, offer buyouts, or just flat out lay workers off.
If they’re willing to wait, they can let people go through attrition. That means that when employees leave on their own volition, the company won’t replace that person. That person’s position will be absorbed into the remaining workforce.
But when it’s the government seeking to downsize because of wasteful government spending, politicians freak out.
When you put things into perspective, the State Department’s budget is $50.1 billion, which represents just over 1 percent of the federal budget. And Tillerson’s proposal would represent a 26-percent cut of its current budget, which means they’d be cutting about $13 billion. That’s a good first step, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the massive $3.8 trillion federal budget.
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of 43 senators urged “robust funding” for the State Department and USAID.
“At a time when we face multiple national security challenges around the world, deep cuts in this area would be shortsighted, counterproductive and even dangerous,” they said in a letter to Senate appropriators.
Rex Tillerson’s proposal would offer buyouts to 700 employees and allow 1,600 positions to be eliminated through attrition. The buyouts would be given to those employees over the age of 50 who have at least 20 years of government service.
So, in reality, according to Tillerson’s plan, no one would actually get fired. Jobs wouldn’t be ‘destroyed.’ They’d be let go the easiest way possible, so that they can either retire or have time to find other work.
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