GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy wants to fire 'at least half the federal workforce'

"A lot of civil service protections are unconstitutional," said the entrepreneur and 2024 GOP presidential candidate, who predicts his proposal to eliminate up to half the federal workforce would be upheld in the Supreme Court.

Published: March 6, 2023 3:58pm

Updated: March 7, 2023 5:51am

Arguing that a lot of the U.S. government's "civil service protections" for federal employees are unconstitutional, entrepreneur and 2024 GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has vowed to end public sector unions. 

"I take a strong view of Article Two of the Constitution," Ramaswamy said in an interview at CPAC. "It says the president of the United States runs the federal government, runs specifically the executive branch of the federal government. That means, I think, a lot of those civil service protections are unconstitutional."

Article Two allows the U.S. president to "deliver on what the person who runs the country does," which is to oversee the federal workforce and fire government employees if necessary. 

"If somebody works for you, and you can't fire them, then they don't actually work for you," reasons Ramaswamy, author of "Woke, Inc.: Inside America's Corporate Social Justice Scam."

"I actually would just proceed with shutting down agencies, with firing a good portion of the federal workforce," he said. "I think it's going to be at least half the federal workforce. And will that end up in litigation? It will. But I think this Supreme Court, that this has not always been true, but I think this Supreme Court shares that view of Article Two.

"I think we use that to set judicial precedent to make sure that never again is there a president who's gobbled up by the administrative state that supposedly works for him, but actually has the relationship the other way around."

Ramaswamy is undeterred by the cautionary history of conservative Republicans who've tried and failed to eliminate certain federal agencies.

"They defer to Congress," he said. "The problem is Congress has an institutional bias ... The way you run the executive branch is not the purview of Congress. It is the purview of the executive, the person who leads the executive branch of government." 

Ramaswamy proposes eliminating the Department of Education and moving some federal agencies out of Washington, D.C.

"A lot of people from Washington D.C. just won't want to move," he said. "I mean, that's a good way to just get rid of half of them off of voluntary terminations right there — save the severance costs." 

He also wants to shut down the FBI and "replace it with something new," adding that "we should have done it 60 years ago."

Ramaswamy responded via Twitter to those who have criticized as partisan his plan to shutter the FBI.

"Far from it," he wrote. "Liberals once opposed Hoover's politicized FBI. It’s not so different today: there’s a reason that its HQ is still called the J. Edgar Hoover building. Ground zero of the swamp."

Ramaswamy is also calling for an end to public sector unions.

"If you're a public servant and you're unionizing," he said, "who exactly are you unionizing against? The very public you intend to serve. I don't think there needs to be any special protections for public employee unions, full stop, and I don't think we should hedge about it." 

Ramaswamy was asked what made him say recently that he doesn't think former President Trump will attack him during the presidential campaign and whether he's ready for such attacks from Trump should they come. 

"Totally, yeah," he replied. "It's like trash talk on a basketball court. If you don't have thick skin to deal with a little bit of trash talking, you probably shouldn't be the person representing this country in front of Xi Jinping.

"I think we have a deep relationship and mutual respect. We're both high energy guys. I respect what he did. You know, we're friends, and so I don't expect it, but if he wants to trash talk a little on the court, we'll have some fun with it."

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