Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves as he arrives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on August 25. A draft of the GOP platform said the federal government should use attrition to reduce the payroll by at least 10 percent and adjust “pay scales and benefits to reflect those of the private sector.” (Jewel Samad / AFP via Getty Images)
The Republican Party platform calls for cutting the federal workforce by at least 10 percent, overhauling federal pay and benefits, and privatizing airport screening and possibly some U.S. Postal Service operations, according to a draft version posted online.
Although the draft document acknowledges the dedication of federal employees, it says that the civil service has grown by at least 140,000 employees under the Obama administration, while the number making $150,000 or more has doubled. “At a time when the national debt has increased to over $15.9 trillion under the current administration, this is grossly irresponsible,” the draft continues. Instead, the government should use attrition to reduce the payroll by at least 10 percent and adjust “pay scales and benefits to reflect those of the private sector.”
“The federal pay system should be sufficiently flexible to acknowledge and reward those who dare to innovate, reduce overhead, optimize processes, and expedite paperwork,” the document adds.
The draft was posted online by Politico.com, which said it found the document on the Republican National Committee’s website. An employee in the RNC’s press office could not say Monday when the final version will be made public. Monday was supposed to be the first day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., but activities were canceled because of safety concerns stemming from Tropical Storm Isaac.
The draft drew a withering response from J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, who said in a statement that the GOP believes in “taking a hacksaw” to needed programs.
Federal employees treat wounded veterans, process and deliver millions of Social Security checks every month and ensure food safety, Cox said. “It’s hard for me to imagine a country that would turn its back on its citizens, but that’s exactly what this GOP platform proposes to do,” he added.
The draft platform also:
Attacks the Transportation Security Administration as “a massive bureaucracy of 65,000 employees who seem to be accountable to no one for the way they treat travelers.” Instead, the government should return airport screening to private firms “whenever feasible,” the document says, adding that “we ... look toward the development of security systems that can replace the personal violation of frisking.”
Urges a “dramatic restructuring” of the U.S. Postal Service, including a look at partially privatizing its operations. “In light of the Postal Service’s seriously underfunded pension system, Congress should explore a greater role for private enterprise in appropriate aspects of the mail processing system,” the draft says.
Calling the Postal Service’s pension system underfunded is inaccurate, however. There is bipartisan agreement that the Postal Service has overfunded its share of the Federal Employees Retirement System. A bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., for example, would refund $11 billion to the mail carrier in excess FERS contributions.