Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.; Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del.; and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., discuss government entities and programs identified as "high risk" for waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to “attack our debt and deficit by vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.” Within weeks of the election, President-elect Trump announced plans to implement federal hiring freezes and curtail or eliminate protections that federal employees have had for more than a generation.
Waste, fraud and abuse in government are significant problems and President-elect Trump is right to focus on eliminating them. But cutting the federal workforce is not the path to doing so. A 1982 Government Accountability Office report found, for example, that the federal hiring freezes imposed under Presidents Carter and Reagan led to the loss of 445 IRS revenue agent and auditor staff, which resulted in government losses of tax revenue of more than 20 times the amount saved in salaries and benefits.