Foundation

Federal Bureaucrats Have Picked a Candidate

by Andrew Wilford / /

In a study that came out last week that should surprise no one, The Hill found that out of the total of $2 billion in donations to presidential campaigns from workers in fourteen federal agencies, 95% of donations went towards Hillary Clinton.

Donation ratios were not uniform across agencies, as some, such as the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, and the State Department each saw 99% or more of donations go to Clinton. The lowest level of support for Clinton came from the Department of Defense, where only 84% of donations went to the Democratic candidate. As the old saying goes, follow the money; Trump’s proposal to add at least $16 billion in new defense spending is likely more than just tangentially related to his (relative) popularity in this department.

Such overwhelming bureaucratic support for Clinton should not be surprising, given her support for vastly expanding the budget of the federal government, and the scope of its activities across 155 new spending proposals. NTUF estimates that Clinton will increase federal outlays by at least $221 billion.

Trump, on the other hand, would increase federal spending by $20 billion, with most of this funding going towards the aforementioned Defense Department. Trump has made proposals to cut down the size of the federal government, including initiating a practice of hiring only one new federal worker for every three that retire, and another practice to reduce regulatory power through “one in, two out” rules for new federal regulations.

Notably, Gary Johnson does not even appear on The Hill’s report. NTUF has estimated that Johnson would reduce federal spending by $143 billion.

Federal bureaucrats are hardly a neglected interest group. A 2014 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the federal workforce increased from 1.88 million to 2.13 million workers between 2004 and 2012. Wages increased more than 10% over this period as well, and Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute shows how, this past year, wages and benefits for the federal bureaucracy amounted to $267 billion. On average, federal workers earned 42% more than state and local workers.

While there are many members of the federal workforce who are driven by a desire to do good and important work on behalf of taxpayers, there are large swaths of the bureaucracy who have foisted a regulatory burden on the American people. The American Action Forum finds that 600 major regulations -- those having an economic impact of at least $100 million -- were imposed since 2009.  This regulatory burden was estimated to have cost the economy $2.03 trillion in 2012. Regulatory power has been growing rapidly as well; the Mercatus Center estimated that the economy was $4 trillion smaller in 2012 than it would have been if regulatory levels had stayed constant since 1980, leaving the average household with approximately $32,000 less in their bank accounts.

Federal employees can be expected to support expanding their respective agencies at the expense of the taxpayers, but taxpayers are not obligated to support these policies. For taxpayers who want to get involved in keeping the regulatory state in check, citizen's guides are available.


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