By: James Simpson | American Thinker
Project Veritas just released its latest undercover video, “Unmasking the Deep State.” This first video focuses on a State Department employee who is both a poster child for the Deep State and a perfect example of why the federal bureaucracy needs serious reform. Providentially, there is new legislation being considered in Congress that would do just that: the Merit Act (H.R. 559).
The Merit Act would greatly streamline the process for firing employees who are poor performers, insubordinate, or otherwise engaged in misconduct. Since the election of President Trump, the bureaucracy, including numerous holdovers from the Obama administration, has been engaged in an unprecedented level of obstruction, leaks, and sabotage. These bad actors call it “resistance.” FBI and Department of Justice misconduct in the Trump-Russia probe and the Clinton email scandal is only the most visible component.
This is nothing new. President Bush faced similar resistance from the bureaucracy, and going as far back as 1986, the Reagan administration had to contend with a State Department relentlessly working to derail his foreign policy. In the intervening period, we have been treated to stories of almost incomprehensible incompetence and corruption in the federal bureaucracy.
Recall, for example, the case of John Beale, the EPA’s “climate expert,” who continued to collect a salary for 18 months after he retired and scammed the government for 13 years. He collected a salary higher than legal limits; took unearned bonuses; awarded himself a handicapped parking pass though he wasn’t handicapped; and was absent for months at a time, falsely claiming to be a CIA agent working other assignments. Then-president Obama appointed Beale’s wife, Nancy Kete, to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The pair own houses in Arlington, Va. and Cape Cod. Beale was sentenced to 32 months and fined – a rare conviction, though the EPA waited three years before charging him. Beale is paying off his fine over time, using his government retirement annuity, which he still receives.
There is so much more. What about the horrors we discovered at the Veterans Administration? Or how about the 100 federal employees watching porn at work, some for as long as six hours per day? Many complained they were bored and didn’t have enough work. No mention of punishment. They were probably all just told to go back to work.
The Veritas video presents a portrait of a State Department bureaucrat committed to “resistance.” The employee caught on tape, one Stuart Karaffa, says, “Resist everything…every level, f‑‑‑ s‑‑‑ up.”
Karaffa is a self-identified member of Democratic Socialists of America, and uses work time to draft DSA-related political emails, a violation of the Hatch Act. What about getting caught? He says, “I don’t have anything to lose. It’s impossible to fire federal employees…”
He’s right. A century-long litany of successive legislation has created what amounts to a civil service industry, with public employee unions leading the charge. According to the Government Accountability Office, it takes on average from 170 to 370 days to fire a poor-performing employee, with unions intensively litigating on his behalf. The employee can appeal the decision, dragging the whole thing on for years. Most federal managers just give up. A recent study found that only about 0.5 percent of federal employees are terminated for cause.
But President Obama made matters worse, politicizing the hiring process under a2010 executive order that circumvented many federal hiring rules. This made it easier for him to seed the bureaucracy with his people. We are witnessing the results. It’s called the Deep State.
Well, if the Merit Act passes, things could change, and it could not happen soon enough. The legislation shortens the appeals process and reduces the burden of proof required to fire a bad employee. The Merit Act passed out of committee in July and enjoys 58 congressional sponsors. A companion bill (S. 3200) has been proposed in the Senate.
President Trump needs to hear from us on this bill, and he needs to push it. He has already taken action to curb federal union work time abuse and faces firsthand every day the rampant problems embedded in the bureaucracy.
We have been treated to two years of in-your-face government behaving badly, but it didn’t start then. We have a rare opportunity to fix a major problem that has been festering for decades. Only now, when Congress is controlled by the GOP,and we have a president who is willing to do the heavy lifting on controversial issues, do we have a chance. We cannot afford to squander it.