Barely a week into his new presidency and President Trump is already surrounded by controversy. Although, considering the rancor that followed his campaign and the political split in America, this is arguably not surprising. However, there’s a big difference between campaign promises and the actions of a sworn-in president. Already, Trump has signed numerous executive orders and started laying the foundation for his new administration. One of the more controversial changes included the implementation of a new federal hiring freeze.
Announced on Monday in Trump’s Contract with the American People, the hiring freeze is just one of six measures designed to “clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, D.C." Although extremely vague, Trump states that the contract will exclude “the military, public safety, and public health,” and will only apply to the civilian workforce in the executive branch. Still, a 2014 report by the Office of Personnel Management showed that there were about 1.36 million civilian employees, meaning many jobs may potentially be at risk. For even though memorandums don't carry as much weight as executive orders, this order still carries hefty legal power and can have large ramifications on Americans.
Naturally, critics of the new administration are outraged by this order. One such critic, Tom Moore, a junior political science major at UNC Chapel Hill, states that “this freeze will be absolutely detrimental to government functionality and needlessly places so many jobs at risk.” Tom explains that even those hired under the Obama administration “aren’t safe”. Because despite Obama’s best efforts to accelerate the federal hiring process before Trump’s upcoming presidency, those individuals hired under Obama but are not currently working could nevertheless still be affected by the freeze.
"This affects everyone, not just civil servants. My friend had an internship lined up working at a lab or something with the EPA. Now he doesn’t know if he can even do it."
However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, senior New York University public policy major David Burch explains that the freeze won’t really change much. “Everyone acts like Trump is going to fire millions of people, and that’s simply not true,” David says. Even though the directive prohibits government agencies from hiring new people, David explains, it doesn’t say that they are going to be fired. Not to mention, those that would negatively affect national security or public safety are completely exempt from this directive.
"The order is only two pages long. Everyone is sharing false or exaggerated information when it’s easy enough to read for yourselves."
Finally, Appalachian State history major Rebecca Hall offered a unique historical insight regarding Trump's plan. Interestingly enough, Rebecca points out that there is actually a historical precedent when examining hiring freezes. “People are forgetting that both Reagan and Carter also imposed hiring freezes,” Rebecca explains. “In some ways, we already know how this is going to pan out.”
As it turns out, Jimmy Carter imposed three separate hiring freezes as president- all with mixed results. However, Ronald Reagan’s freeze was much more extreme than Carter’s. Signed within minutes of his presidency, Reagan’s plan required that only one federal official be hired for every two that left government service. However, as Rebecca explains, even these extreme measures had little long-term effect on the size of the government or its spending. “Even the legality of this move has already been addressed,” Rebecca says, "so there's not much point in arguing."
Rebecca explains that in 1981, The National Treasury Employees Union filed a suit against Reagan to the Federal District Court. The union ultimately claimed that the freeze exceeded the president's authority and unlawfully broke employee contracts. However, in the end, the court ruled in favor of Reagan, thus setting precedent and making Trump’s order completely legal.
"Sometimes everyone gets so caught up in arguing that they forget something has already happened. So no, I don’t believe this is as big of an issue as people are making it out to be and I'm really not that concerned."
Altogether, Trump claims that hiring freeze is simply a way to control government growth until his budget director can recommend a long-term plan to reduce the federal workforce through attrition. So far, it’s unclear as to what this long-term plan may entail but be sure to follow Fresh U closely as we continue to report about Trump’s administration.
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Lead Image Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons