Jeb Bush wants to slash size of government, curb lobbying

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Monday he would not replace two-thirds of retiring federal employees, as the former Florida governor laid out plans to overhaul what he called a bloated US government.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 21, 2015, 03:11 AM IST

Washington: Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Monday he would not replace two-thirds of retiring federal employees, as the former Florida governor laid out plans to overhaul what he called a bloated US government.

Bush detailed several proposals for combatting "the overspending, the overreaching, the arrogance" of "Mount Washington" -- the US capital that has, for conservatives, become synonymous with bureaucracy and waste.

In a speech in Tallahassee, Florida, he proposed amending the US Constitution so that budget deficits would be prohibited, and offered several other budget reforms, but took particular aim at the management of federal employees.

"My first reform will be placing a freeze on federal hiring," Bush said. 

"We will go by a simple three-out, one-in rule across the federal workforce, with exceptions for critical positions related to our security and safety."

"Combined with other reforms, reducing the size of the bureaucracy by 10 percent within four years is a realistic goal," said the Republican, who also wants to base pay on performance and make it easier to fire federal employees.

The 62-year-old Bush -- aiming to be the third president from his family after his father and brother -- also promised to rein in Washington`s lucrative lobbying business, which he said had grown by 45 percent in the past decade.

He wants to prohibit former members of Congress from engaging in lobbying activities for six years following the end of their term.

Former senators and congressmen often follow up time spent on Capitol Hill with stints as lobbyists, offering their network of contacts and considerable influence to business groups looking to influence the legislative process. 

The current lobbying ban is one year for former members of the House of Representatives and two for former senators.

Bush would also like to dock the pay of the 535 elected members of Congress in the case of absenteeism. 

"If you don`t come, you will not be paid for your time," he said.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government employed 2,663,000 people in 2014, not including 1.4 million members of the military and 63,000 people in the legislative and judicial branches. 

This number has decreased since a high in 2010, the year following the implementation of a stimulus plan after the great recession of 2008-2009.

Those vying for the US presidency are fine-tuning their platforms ahead of the primary elections that begin in February 2016. The first Republican debate is scheduled for August 6, with 10 candidates to be invited.

The presidential election will take place in November 2016.