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What if Federal Workers Never Showed Up for Work and No One Missed Them?

A Commentary By Stephen Moore

This is one of the greatest federal government scandals of all time. Many hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been getting a full-time paycheck from Uncle Sam (meaning from all of us) without showing up for work for three years now.

They don't call it Club Fed for nothing.

To be fair, just because an employee is working remotely doesn't mean they aren't working. Only a little more than half of private sector workers are actually in the office these days -- although, with each passing day, private workers are returning to work sites. But in the public sector, the percentage of remote workers remains much higher than that. The Federal Times news outlet reports that at the end of 2022, only about 1 in 3 federal bureaucrats were on the job in the office.

Wait. The COVID scare ended two and a half years ago, and most private businesses have demanded their employees show up for work at least some of the time -- or find a new employer. What's so special and privileged about government workers?

Now, new House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) is pushing a bill that would require all federal agencies to reinstitute their telework policies as they existed on Dec. 31, 2019, with expanded remote work only for authorized projects. That bill passed the House on a 221-206 vote. Guess what? All but six House Democrats voted no. Is there any wonder why? Well, more than 90% of PAC donations from federal employee unions go to ... you got it, Democrats.

Who are the Democrats accountable to? Federal employees, or their own taxpayer voters and constituents who pay these workers' salaries? This vote makes the answer to that question crystal clear. So, the rest of America in private sector jobs is back to work, but not the 1.9 million federal employees, who often make $100,000 a year in salaries and benefits. All of this is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer money, but there is a silver lining here. Raise your hand if you've even noticed that federal workers are not showing up at the Department of Energy or Education or Transportation or the State Department or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Has this disrupted your life in any material way? Not mine.

Maybe we've all learned a valuable lesson here. Maybe these agencies aren't as indispensable as President Joe Biden says they are. We could potentially save billions of dollars and reduce our debt by getting rid of some of these obsolete or irrelevant agencies, departments and bureaus.

A budget impasse between Biden and congressional Republicans may lead to a temporary shutdown of some of these agencies. How could that be Armageddon if we don't even know when the workers are on the job?
Maybe we could cut the federal workforce in half from 2 to 1 million employees. My best guess is nobody would notice, and nobody would care.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economist with FreedomWorks. His latest book is "Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government is Devouring our Economy."

See Other Political Commentaries.

See Other Commentaries by Stephen Moore.

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