Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy on Wednesday will lay out his plan to break the grip of power held by the administrative state.
“There is an unconstitutional, fourth branch of government that is choking American democracy, and it is called the administrative state,” Ramaswamy asserts in an advance copy of a white paper speech provided to The Star News Network by the Ohio entrepreneur’s campaign.
“Hordes of unelected bureaucrats stifle innovation and ignore the voted desires of the American people. Till now, no American President has succeeded in rolling back the powers of these administrators who should report to the president but in fact report only to their union bosses,” the paper states.
Ramaswamy will deliver his domestic policy speech at 10 a.m. at the America First Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. The address will be followed by a fireside chat.
The 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur, the first millennial to seek the Republican Party presidential nomination, has talked about the evils of the unconstitutional “fourth branch” of government since hitting the campaign trail in February.
“I think the FBI as an institution should not exist,” Ramaswamy told USA Today in July. “I think that that is far more practical than it sounds…I do not believe that an institution that entrenched in its culture and way of operating can be reformed.”
In his major speech Wednesday at the America First Policy Institute, Ramaswamy will, for the first time, fully lay out the “previously underreported legal and constitutional” authority for shutting down administrative agencies and firing a significant number of federal employees, according to the campaign.
“I unveiled my plan to shut down multiple federal administrative agencies by firing most of their employees and transferring essential roles to other departments,” Ramaswamy states in the white paper. “This includes shuttering the Department of Education and relocating its workforce training programs to the Department of Labor; shutting down the FBI and relocating the 15,000 special agents who solve cases to the U.S. Marshals, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the Department of Treasury; and abolishing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, while distributing its responsibilities to other parts of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. This plan will reduce costs, stimulate the economy, and improve democratic accountability in our federal government.”
The FBI, in particular, has become a target of defunding and elimination by conservatives following allegations that employees tried to cover up the Hunter Biden laptop story by claiming it was Russian disinformation. Charges of political weaponization have dogged the FBI and the Department of Justice in general during President Joe Biden’s term.
Critics of the call to remove and replace the FBI insist doing so would create chaos and unconstitutionally expand the powers of the executive branch.
“It frightens me,” Mary Guy, a professor of public administration at the University of Colorado Denver, told PBS. She warns the idea would bring a return to a political spoils system.
Ramaswamy begs to differ.
As Ramaswamy will note in his speech, the president enjoys broad statutory authority to prescribe rules for the civil service. Biden does it all the time. His former boss, President Barack Obama, did so routinely. So did Biden’s predecessor and leading political rival, former President Donald Trump.
“President Trump used this authority to issue an executive order directly amending previously enacted agency regulations, and Presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama have similarly amended the civil service rules by executive order as well,” Ramaswamy writes in his white paper.
Trump issued Schedule F, an executive order that reclassifies tens of thousands of the 2 million federal employees as at-will workers who could more easily be fired.
Biden did away with the executive order. Trump and others have vowed to bring it back.
Ramaswamy cites Franklin v. Massachusetts and Collins v. Yellen, noting the U.S. Supreme Court held that the presidential exercise of such authority is unrestricted by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
“This finding makes sense because the APA was designed to protect the governed from unconstitutional overreach of the federal government, not federal employees from their employer,” Ramaswamy’s white paper states.
Democrats and their Big Labor allies have pointed to “for cause” job protections for federal employees, insisting they keep them from being fired in the absence of specific evidence of wrongdoing. Ramaswamy, however, said it is notable that such protections do not protect federal employees from an executive order implementing a mass layoff that would eliminate a significant number of jobs at once.
A “reduction in force” or mass layoff of federal employees is only subject to 60-day notice requirements and federal order-of-retention rules.
“The statute gives the power to effectuate such reductions to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the OPM rules give the power to effectuate reductions in force to individual administrative agency heads – not the President,” Ramaswamy’s white paper asserts.
That’s why it’s critical, the candidate says, for a president to appoint agency heads who are prepared to issue mass layoffs at the direction of the president. Should an agency head refuse to cooperate, Ramaswamy said the president can assume the power to issue mass layoffs by overriding OPM rules through the exercise of statutory power to “prescribe rules governing the competitive service.”
Ramaswamy’s speech promises to be a strong defense of the president’s authority to significantly diminish ever-expanding big government at the federal level.
“Conservatives have long been frustrated by an expansive and unaccountable federal administrative state, but the good news is that the democratically elected leader of the executive branch is already empowered by Congress to dramatically reduce the size and scope of sprawling federal agencies,” Ramaswamy is expected to conclude in his speech. “The missing element is a U.S. President who reads the law carefully and is prepared to act accordingly.”
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Vivek Ramaswamy” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.