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Senators seek to slash number of presidential appointees


By Al Kamen

Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday introduced a bill to slash the number of presidential political appointees, both full-time and part-time, from about 3,500 to 2,000 employees.

The measure, similar to ones they had introduced during the Clinton and Bush administrations, would most likely cut lower-level schedule C appointees -- the "confidential aide" and "special advisor" jobs usually filled by campaign workers.

Both senators have promoted such reductions, which are strongly supported by government reform experts, as a way to reduce costs, cut government and streamline the bureaucracy. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated these cuts could yield a savings of nearly $900 million over ten years.

Presidents generally "believe that the more political appointees you get into office, the more responsive the bureaucracy becomes," said New York University professor Paul Light, author of "A Government Ill-Executed." While that may be so at a certain level, after a while "an inflated number of presidential appointees makes for paralysis," he said.

The bloated bureaucracy leads to increased layers of officials with lengthy titles such as "deputy assistant secretary and Office of the Secretary of Defense special coordinator for cooperative threat reduction and secretary of defense representative and deputy head to the safety, security and dismantlement talks." Yes, that's just one person.

"The more people you get in these jobs," Light said, "the less presidential control you have."

In a statement, the senators note that the number of political appointees, estimated at about 2,700 at the end of the Carter administration, has "shot up by nearly 28 percent." Their proposal gives the administration one year to determine where to make the cuts needed to bring the total down to 2,000 appointees.

By Al Kamen  |  March 8, 2010; 4:07 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , In the Loop  
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Comments

At last, Feingold finally has an idea I can support. Hooray for Feingold and McCain. Cut govt. jobs now.

Posted by: RonKH | March 10, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

koatz1....why do you hate me. I am a very nice mother of 4, grandmother of 4 and a conservative. There are many of us in the USA who have traditional values. Why do you hate us? We do outnumber liberals,and yes we do usually vote with the GOP, but when you disrespect more than half the nation what does this say about you. We are all entitled to our opinion,so why "hate" us?

Posted by: annalee7591 | March 9, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Russ. There's nothing like a loser Democrat back stabbing his President. Democrats suck as politicians. If I didn't hate Repubs more, I wouldn't vote for them.

Posted by: koatz1 | March 9, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

All senators and congressmen should remember the old axiom "if you lay down with dogs, you will get fleas

Posted by: jdharwell85 | March 9, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Its Spring time cleaning in the House of corruption and greed (Congress).
Now take the money not spent to pay these crooks and reduce the national Debit.

Posted by: akeegan2 | March 9, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

How many additional employees have the Senate and House of Representatives added in the same time frame, since the Carter administration? How many operatives have the Senators and Representatives added in their home state offices and satellite offices? If the number is significant, should this bill be amended to mandate reductions on the Congress as well as the Executive?

Posted by: redneck2 | March 9, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

How many additional employees have the Senate and House of Representatives added in the same time frame, since the Carter administration? How many operatives have the Senators and Representatives added in their home state offices and satellite offices? If the number is significant, should this bill be amended to mandate reductions on the Congress as well as the Executive?

Posted by: redneck2 | March 9, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

How about any position that stays vacant for more than 6 months is eliminated?

Posted by: member5 | March 8, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

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