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January 16, 2018

Lack of Administrative Picks Is a Thorn in Trump’s Side

“Draining the Swamp” while stocking crucial administrative positions is not contradictory. Here’s why.

In just a few days, Donald Trump will officially mark one full year in the Oval Office, during which time his impressive list of accomplishments has blossomed, with conservative policy reforms and judicial nominations. If there’s one area the president is coming up short, however, it’s in neglecting to fill important administrative posts.

The Daily Signal reports, “Trump has no nominee for 252 of the 633 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, according to the Partnership for Public Service, which tracks presidential appointments. That’s well behind every predecessor going back to at least President George H.W. Bush, each of whom had the bulk of nominees confirmed by this point in their administration, according to the organization.” To name just a few, key appointments are lacking in the Justice Department, Internal Revenue Service and State Department.

In fairness, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders last month pointed out, “The president has said before he doesn’t think that every single position in the government needs to be filled. He’s going to cut back on some of those positions. We’ve been focused on some of the top priority places and we’re going to continue filling out individuals. But, we’ve also seen a massive slowdown and obstruction by the Democrats.”

Here’s the problem with that argument: Every second that ticks by only exacerbates the issue of the deep state, and it actually detrimentally handcuffs Trump’s broader agenda. Why? Because career politicians will jump at the opportunity to continue fulfilling Barack Obama’s statist agenda, or at least blocking Trump’s. As The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Moffit observes, “If you are going to drain the swamp, you need the people to do it. You either control the federal bureaucracy or the federal bureaucracy controls you.”

In related news, turnover is disproportionately high in the Trump White House. According to a Washington Post analysis, Trump’s first-year turnover rate sits at 36%, which dwarfs that of previous administrations. For example, of the previous five presidents, the second-highest on the list, Ronald Reagan, had a first-year turnover rate of 17%, while George W. Bush had the lowest at 6%.

Trump is certainly largely to blame for the chaotic atmosphere in the White House, but Steven Bannon, Reince Priebus, Michael Flynn and others hurt themselves and created a lot of their own problems. The bottom line is that Trump needs to get busy filling critical positions. But he also needs to be methodical about it. The wise vetting he deployed to pick Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch should be applied to his entire administration to mitigate turnover and avoid needless distractions.

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