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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Axing the Appointees

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By Robert Brodsky

The number of Executive Branch political appointees could be dramatically cut under a bill reintroduced in the Senate Monday.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., are pushing the Control Spending Now Act, which would cap the number of political appointments at 2,000. The senators previously introduced the legislation in the Clinton and Bush administrations but the bills were not enacted.

"Over the last year, a common theme I have been hearing from Wisconsinites at my listening sessions is frustration with the growing government bureaucracy," Feingold said. "Unnecessary bureaucratic positions not only waste taxpayer dollars, but also make government less effective and less responsive to the people it represents. In the face of record deficits, this bill offers a good way to save while improving the way government works."

Since 1980, the number of political appointees in government has risen by nearly 28 percent, creating added costs and bureaucracy, the senators said.

"In this time of economic crisis, we must do everything possible to eliminate waste and make the federal government smaller and more efficient," McCain said. "This bill is simple--it will save money and result in a more streamlined Executive Branch."

The legislation would leave it up to the Executive Branch to determine how to reduce the number of political appointees, providing them with one year to make the cuts. Positions outlined in the Constitution would not be affected by the bill.

If enacted, the Congressional Budget Office previously estimated it could save $872 million over ten years.

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