Ramaswamy Unveils Plan to Cut 75 Percent of Federal Jobs, Rescind Most Regulations

Presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy outlined plans to slash federal jobs, regulations, and agencies, detailing the existing laws he says empower his agenda.
Ramaswamy Unveils Plan to Cut 75 Percent of Federal Jobs, Rescind Most Regulations
Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to guests at the Republican Party of Iowa 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 28, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Nathan Worcester

In his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Vivek Ramaswamy outlined his domestic policy agenda in a Sept. 13 speech at the America First Policy Institute that included a detailed plan for slashing the federal employee headcount by 50 percent in his first year and 75 percent during his first term.

That would add up to more than 1 million jobs in the first year and roughly 1.5 million jobs during the term as a whole, Ramaswamy campaign spokesperson Zach Henry said in a message to The Epoch Times.

"Speaking as a CEO, if somebody works for you and you can't fire them, that means they don't work for you. It means you work for them because you're responsible for what they do without any authority to actually change it," Mr. Ramaswamy, a businessman who has worked in biotech and asset management, told the crowd.

The presidential hopeful also explained how he would use the Supreme Court's decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limiting the scope of the agency's regulatory powers, to rescind most federal regulations on the books.

He also described plans to shut down the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Education (DOE), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), reiterating and expanding upon elements of a July 20 speech in New Hampshire.

"This is just the beginning of the list of federal agencies that we will either shut down or downsize by 75 percent or more," Mr. Ramaswamy said toward the end of his speech.

Mr. Ramaswamy's remarks at the America First Policy Institute come weeks after he delivered a speech on his foreign policy objectives at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California.

In that speech, the candidate said he would pursue "Nixonian realism" by courting Russia to undermine what he characterized as the greater threat from China.
Mr. Ramaswamy's profile rose after his spirited performance at the first Republican presidential primary debate, where he sparred with former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, among others.
The latest Real Clear Politics polling average shows him in third place in the Republican field, behind former President Donald J. Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Ms. Haley and Mr. Pence come in fourth and fifth, respectively, according to that polling average.
Now under the microscope of his Republican competitors and the media, Mr. Ramaswamy has come in for criticism for everything from his record as a businessman to his inconsistent past voting record.

In Granular Detail

Mr. Ramaswamy began by explaining why he chose to speak at the America First Policy Institute. That organization is led by business executive Linda McMahon, broadcast news personality Larry Kudlow, and others who helped shape and implement the Trump administration's domestic agenda.

"You have been at the bleeding edge of this fight. This is not an individual sport. This is a team sport. There will be no political messiah coming from the White House on high to save us," Mr. Ramaswamy said.

Beginning with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the United States has witnessed "a gradual waterfall of political responsibility in this country, moving away from Congress and the Senate and the U.S. presidency towards three-letter government agencies that wield the most political power in the federal government despite having the least political accountability," according to the candidate.

Using visual aids, he then walked through what he described as "myths" about the limits on presidential authority that he said have been "perpetuated in this town by advisers and members of the very bureaucracy we're looking to shut down." To support his case, he delved into relevant sections of the United States Code (USC) in granular detail.

Referencing 5 USC 3301 and 5 USC 3302, he argued that the president has considerable power over staffing in the civil service, including the competitive civil service.
He also challenged the idea that a specific section of the U.S. Code, 5 USC 7513(a), dictates that the president can only fire such employees "for.. cause."
"Turns out large-scale reductions in force are not covered by the statute," he said, arguing that mass layoffs of that sort are governed by a much less restrictive statute, 5 USC 3502.

"Large-scale mass layoffs are absolutely what we will bring to the DC bureaucracy," Mr. Ramaswamy pledged to applause and cheers from the America First Policy Institute audience.

He suggested that potential cabinet position heads should be subject to a "litmus test"–"that that agency head is prepared to carry out mass layoff[s]."

In addition, Mr. Ramaswamy asserted that provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1977, found at 5 USC 901, empower the president to reorganize, consolidate, and even shut down federal agencies.

"Who would have ever thought it's worth paying attention to the words of the law itself?" he said.

He further argued that the Supreme Court case INS v. Chadha does not limit the president's mandate over agencies as established by the Reorganization Act of 1977.

Before outlining his plans to rescind regulations and eliminate various agencies, Mr. Ramaswamy presented what he called "the final real myth… this idea that the administrative state as we know it is somehow an impartial, scientific management project that is able to take on what 'We the People' can't be trusted with."

"This is what's actually at stake here. It is a skepticism of 'We the People' and our ability to settle our differences on questions from climate change to racial injustice," the 2024 hopeful stated.

Rescinding Regulations and Eliminating Agencies

Mr. Ramaswamy argued that the Supreme Court's decision in West Virginia v. EPA last year changed the game on federal regulations.

In a 6–3 decision, the court found that the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan was unconstitutional because Congress had not given the EPA the authority to make such sweeping, costly shifts to the power generation mix on the U.S. grid. That argument rested in part on the expected economic impact of the plan.

"If those regulations in the Clean Power Plan were unconstitutional, then that quite literally means that most federal regulations—I don't use that colloquially, I mean that literally—a majority, quite likely an overwhelming majority, of current federal regulations are unconstitutional under current law in the United States of America," Mr. Ramaswamy said.

He vowed to begin rescinding those regulations "immediately" upon taking office.

Mr. Ramaswamy sketched how he would shut down the FBI, the DOE, the NRC, and the ATF, explaining that some functions would be shifted to other agencies while others would be eliminated entirely. In the case of the FBI, for example, he said some positions would be moved to the U.S. Marshals and some other agencies.

The would-be president, who has positioned himself as an heir to the legacy of President Trump through an "America First 2.0" platform, told the crowd that his vision was "fundamentally American."

"America was founded on radical ideals," Mr. Ramaswamy said.

Nathan Worcester covers national politics for The Epoch Times and has also focused on energy and the environment. Nathan has written about everything from fusion energy and ESG to Biden's classified documents and international conservative politics. He lives and works in Chicago. Nathan can be reached at [email protected].