In a time of devastating unemployment, Republicans in the House and Senate have devised a startling economic proposal: Cut jobs.
They talk about it in terms of a freeze in hiring by the federal government. Job applicants would be turned away in massive amounts, as positions gone vacant would be simply eliminated. The idea is part of the GOP’s Pledge To America, which was devised by largely ignoring proposals submitted by the American people through the America Speaking Out network.
The justification for the so-called “hiring freeze” is that it would reduce government spending. Senator Daniel Akaka, however, notes that the Republican Party’s proposal to cut government jobs has a rather large loophole that would increase government spending.
“Far from being fiscally responsible, these policies would end up costing the government more over the long run, by increasing our reliance on contractors whose work would not be capped. Arbitrary restrictions on hiring Federal employees open up opportunities for waste, fraud, and abuse as contracting expands without investment in oversight. Over the past decade, Federal contracts have nearly doubled in size, to over $500 billion, but the size of the workforce overseeing contractors has stayed constant. We must reverse, not reinforce, that trend.”
As Akaka points out, the Republicans’ hiring freeze is not the same thing as a spending freeze. The U.S. government would be banned from hiring replacement workers when current workers become sick, retire, or die. However, the government would not be prevented from paying corporations to do the same work. Corporate contractors are less economically efficient, given their dedication to providing profit to investors, and have also been prone to fraud and waste. So, the Republicans’ proposal would likely increase spending, not reduce it.
The supposed “hiring freeze” is less about fiscal responsibility than it is about a transfer of power away from democratically-established public institutions, into the corporate realm. Such a transfer would greatly assist elite investors, but it would result in a smaller number of jobs available for Americans looking for work, and would create an even larger burden of public debt.