Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of Donald Trump's top advisers, called on the Republican candidate to make it easier to fire government workers if he becomes president.
According to The Washington Post, Republicans have been attempting to overhaul the federal workforce following scandals over care for veterans, IRS scrutiny of tax-exempt groups, and lavish spending at conferences, but Democrats push back because they are usually allies of public employee unions.
Under current law, firing workers with poor records or misconduct is difficult.
Gingrich called for changes, reports the Post, saying the Veterans' Administration is "an agency filled with failure to achieve things."
"Until we're prepared to reform the civil service model — and the Pendleton Act passed 133 years ago — you have no ability to fire people who are really bad," he added, referring to the act that established the Civil Service.
Gingrich said that private-sector companies have the ability to remove people who are corrupt, so the government also needs that ability.
"How sick does the system have to get for you to admit it has to be reformed?" Gingrich asked.
When asked how Trump responded to these issues, Gingrich said, "He's talking about it a little bit. I think it's actually a very good place to draw a contrast with Hillary. I would not be at all surprised to see a speech on reforming the whole civil service system."
Federal employee unions would oppose such reforms, Gingrich said, and so would legislators who "think the fight will be so big they can't bring themselves to take it on."
When Gingrich was House speaker in the 1990s, he said they did not address the civil service beyond passing some "administrative reform acts." He didn't realize the magnitude of the problem until after he was out of office.
"I began to realize if you don't fix this problem, nothing in government is going to work," he said.
If "poor performers" are removed from government service, "everyone benefits. You can actually do something. A person who actually got the VA fixed could point to veterans getting better health care.
"Or you reform NASA so it's focused on actually getting into space, and you would have the advantage of a lot more achievements in space. At DOD (the Defense Department) you would cut through all of the planning and procurement baloney that's just killing us," he added.
The AFL-CIO labor union supports the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but the National Border Patrol Council and the National ICE Council have endorsed Trump, according to the Post.
Gingrich has been a surrogate and supporter of Trump. He blasted the Clinton Foundation and her presidential campaign, calling it a "giant criminal enterprise."
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