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Cruz-Fiorina Ticket United in Cutting Federal Jobs, Pay

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Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz announces he has tapped former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz announces he has tapped former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Michael Conroy / AP

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, saw the window of opportunity for him to become president closing, and decided to take one last shot.

That shot, it turned out, was aimed directly at federal employees.

Cruz tapped former Hewlett Packard executive and 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. Throughout her campaign, Fiorina made reforming the federal workforce a centerpiece of her platform. She discussed the need to wade through bureaucracy and cut federal jobs in most of her stump speeches, and promised to reform the civil service during debates.

Fiorina has even spun her laying off 30,000 HP employees as a positive, arguing it provided her the experience she needed to cut the federal workforce. She spoke repeatedly of the need to bring more accountability to federal bureaucrats, as well as the need to change the way they are compensated.

“The government needs to get off seniority systems and go to meritocracies as well,” Fiorina said in May. “Pay for performance.” During her unsuccessful 2010 run for Senate in California, Fiorina pledged to fight for “obvious reforms” such as “limiting federal salaries and benefits.”

Fiorina has touted zero-based budgeting, saying in a debate it would enable the American people to “know where every dollar is being spent.” She also promoted using attrition on a massive scale to trim the federal workforce.  

“In this vast federal bureaucracy we have about 260,000 federal government employees who are going to retire and we shouldn’t replace them,” she said earlier this year.

The Cruz-Fiorina ticket would be quite a formidable opponent to federal employee advocates; at the top, the Texas senator has many ideas of his own to trim the workforce and cut federal pay.

Cruz has detailed a slew of federal agencies and offices he would eliminate, likely cutting about 150,000 civil service positions. Instead of implementing full attrition for all retiring employees, Cruz has vowed to replace one of every three workers that separate from federal service. Cruz also called for an end to across-the-board pay raises for federal employees. Instead, he said feds should have “more opportunities for merit-based pay increases.”

That Cruz and Fiorina actually come to lead the executive branch remains unlikely; however, should it happen, federal employees and their pay will be on notice. 

Eric Katz writes about federal agency operations and management. His deep coverage of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Postal Service has earned him frequent guest spots on national radio and television news programs. Eric joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 and previously worked for The Financial Times. He is a graduate of The George Washington University.

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