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No, Newt, you can’t fire feds for being too liberal

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Newt Gingrich

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich unveiled a whopper of a workforce management strategy on Saturday: Fire the liberals. At a Fox News forum hosted by Mike Huckabee, Gingrich said:

I think an intelligent conservative wants the right federal employees delivering the right services in a highly efficient way and then wants to get rid of those folks who are in fact wasteful, or those folks who are ideologically so far to the left [emphasis mine], or those people who want to frankly dictate to the rest of us.

TPM points out that what Gingrich appears to be proposing is an illegal prohibited personnel practice — one that, if he were to follow through on such a threat, would merit an Office of Special Counsel investigation. According to OSC’s website:

[...] a federal employee who has authority over personnel decisions may not [emphasis original]:

(1) discriminate against an employee or applicant based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicapping condition, marital status, or political affiliation [emphasis mine].

Gingrich made his comments after being asked by 20-year fed Kimberly Williams — who noted that her job isn’t very popular right now — how he would cut the federal deficit without cutting federal jobs. (Williams also told Gingrich that neither she nor anyone she works with makes the alleged $120,000 average federal salary that gets thrown around a lot these days.)

Gingrich responded by lauding feds such as Border Patrol and Customs agents, intelligence officers, and State Department employees in dangerous places overseas, and then segued into a call to replace the Environmental Protection Agency with a more “cooperative” agency. He also pledged to conduct Lean Six Sigma studies to find places to make the government more efficient.

You can watch the exchange below, and find a transcript after the jump. Gingrich’s segment begins at 33 minutes, and Williams’ question about feds comes at the 42 minute mark.

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Williams: There’s been a lot of talk among all of the candidates about the increase in federal jobs with the Obama administration and the average federal employee salary of $120,000 — which by the way, I do not make, nor does anybody I work with. My question is, how are you going to cut the federal deficit without cutting federal jobs?

Gingrich: We talk about federal employees, but we’d like to control the borders. We talk about federal employees, but we’re really proud of the young men and women in uniform who are serving this country, and the people in our intelligence community and, candidly, many State Department people who risk their lives. We need to think a little bit about the Customs agent who helps us down at the port, makes sure that trade goes in and out of South Carolina, is a federal employee. The Agricultural agent who helps bring new products and new ideas to the farmers is a federal employee.

I think an intelligent conservative wants the right federal employees delivering the right services in a highly efficient way and then wants to get rid of those folks who are in fact wasteful, or those folks who are ideologically so far to the left, or those people who want to frankly dictate to the rest of us.

I would like to replace the Environmental Protection Agency with a brand new Environmental Solutions Agency, because the current EPA, I think, is hopelessly committed to dictation, rather than to cooperation. I think it’s the wrong model. I would apply the concept of Lean Six Sigma. I do believe we can have a dramatically more productive federal government, but I think good federal employees would like the chance to break out of the current rules and regulations and actually be productive, and not be trapped in bureaucracy that is unproductive.

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Comments

  1. Cal Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    As a retired federal employee, I think Gingrich’s commens are way out line and probably would sustain a serious court challenge if implmented. I don’t think any Senior Level Manager will comply with this directive. By the way, Gingrich, federal employees do have the right to vote and don’t think any federal employee will vote for you and your illegal idea of firing liberals. I hope you were just kidding!!!

  2. Joseph Loerzel Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Either he is getting incredibly desperate or he’s jumped off the deep end.

  3. sjc Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    The reason we have integrity in the federal government is because politicians can’t do political firings. Gingrich’s ideas are chilling. And illegal.

  4. Joe Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Newt should try getting a real job for the first time in his life before trying to fire people.

  5. Vicki Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Didn’t we see exactly this during the republicanization during the Bush administration. Bush hired only republicans and one republican woman was making sure that only republicans were hired. You had to vow your loyalty to Bush. Gag.

  6. NormfromGA Says:
    January 17th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Vicki is correct…I believe I recall that soon after 9/11, all us CS, at least in DoD, had to renew our vows of allegence to our “elected leaders.”

    Getting back to the subject at hand, rather or not Newt meant what he said, the fact that he and the others jumped on Mitt’s “I love to fire people” remark (taken out of context) is either dishonest or naive.

    No one can cut as many programs or even departments as they all claim that will do as president with out firing (oh yeah, “RIFing”) a lot of people, and increasing the number of people on unemployment.

  7. Robert Benson Says:
    January 17th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Steve Losey, this is a good catch. Thank you for putting the spotlight on it!

  8. Jim Says:
    January 17th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    It was a matter of time before he blew up and said some whacko thing to alienate huge chunks of voters. I’m a staunch conservative and never considered Mr. Gingrich to be a viable or worthy candidate for the nomination. His comments about “ultra-liberals” are correct, but completely unworkable. Who will decide who is too liberal and who is not? Can’t be done unless we degrade to a police state where comments such as mine are construed as damaging to the country. Now if he’d just bow out and let the rest of the candidates get on with the competition, we (the American people) wouldn’t have to listen his nonsense.

  9. K Says:
    January 18th, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    He was wrong about this – just as wrong as the Postal Service Union leaders were when they sent letters to everyone prior to the Presidential election expressing it was in their best interests (to save their jobs) to vote for Obama. As one can now see, Obama cannot save Postal Service employees from their own laziness and Postal Service management waste, fraud, and abuse.

  10. joe Says:
    January 18th, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Another good reason why I will not contribute to this nut case. Gingrich will be dangerous as a president. It will be his way and the way of the Christian “Talliban”, land the non believing heathens,read, non borne again or evangelical christian be damned.
    I am not a fan of the president and sincerely hope he is a one termer, however the right wing hijackers of the republican party are just as bad as the left wing hijackers of the Democrats. Message for both parties, stay out of our pocketbooks, wallets, and bedrooms!!!You are all a bunch of hypocrites, with few ethics or morals.

  11. Bill Says:
    February 24th, 2012 at 2:29 am

    The Presidental race is toast. We need to start looking at what’s going on down ticket.