For most 2016 presidential candidates, the critical day of the campaign is still several months away, with the first votes being cast in Iowa on Feb.1.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, however, appears to have a much closer date circled on his calendar, a date that federal employees are also keeping an eye on: Sept. 30, the last day Congress can pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
Cruz is using his campaign soapbox to threaten to derail the funding process if Planned Parenthood receives federal appropriations. In an op-ed published in USA Today Thursday afternoon, the senator promised a “fight” in the Senate to see his defunding plan through.
Cruz is no stranger to risking a shutdown over ideological issues, and any threats he makes should be treated seriously by federal workers nervous about receiving furlough notices or delayed paychecks. The presidential candidate is widely credited as the architect of the 2013 government shutdown, which he orchestrated in an attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Once again, Cruz has made clear he means business.
“The time for show votes is over,” Cruz wrote. “Funding the federal government does not require funding Planned Parenthood.” He called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., not to “schedule or facilitate” any legislation that gives federal dollars to the organization.
Another Republican candidate made waves this week for an entirely different threat: deporting all undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Frontrunner Donald Trump’s immigration proposal raised questions about its costs, feasibility and constitutionality.
A less explosive element of the immigration white paper called for a federal agency to triple its workforce. Trump suggested Immigration and Customs Enforcement hire 10,000 new employees to give the agency far greater resources to enforce immigration laws and locate individuals residing in the country without legal status.
The billionaire businessman said he would pay for the new hires by eliminating tax credit payments to the undocumented immigrants.
Another candidate with a background in business has found a new way to treat the federal government like the private sector -- by giving it a Yelp review.
The General Services Administration recently launched a partnership with the crowdsourcing site to allow users of government services to provide feedback to the agencies. Republican contender Carly Fiorina decided to use the opportunity to give her two cents to the Transportation Security Administration in a not-so-flattering review.
“The TSA spent $160 million of your taxpayer dollars on body scanners that have a 96% failure rate,” the former Hewlett Packard executive wrote. “Unfortunately, these stories of inept federal bureaucracies have become far too common. It is part of a pattern that confirms what we have known for a long time about our government: it has become too big, too powerful, and too corrupt to do its job.”
She conceded her Yelp review would not be enough, and Americans could only effect the necessary change by electing someone who would cut the federal workforce.
The next president “must have a track record of challenging the status quo and cutting bureaucracies down to size so that we can finally fix the festering problems in our federal government,” she wrote.
Fiorina has said she is the best candidate to take on that task, gloating that she laid off 30,000 employees during her time at HP. The bad news for Fiorina? Her recent rise in the polls was not enough to keep her review from winding up in the “not currently recommended” section of Yelp’s site.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made headlines this week with his proposal to cut the size of the Veterans Affairs Department’s workforce through attrition and more firings. He also said he would expand veterans’ access to private care and offer them more benefits.
The next time presidential candidates want to propose major government reforms, they may want to brush up on their nomenclature. While promising changes this week, both Bush and Fiorina referred to VA as the “Veterans Administration,” a name the department has not held since 1988.