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2021 Drain-the-Swamp Act is the Kill-Democracy Act

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If there was any doubt that the GOP wants to vandalize our government to pave the way for authoritarian rule, the 2021 Drain the Swamp Act (H.R. 5712), put forward by Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, is all the proof you need. It should be called "The Kill-Democracy Act." The act would require all federal agencies to plan to relocate 90% of their workforce far from Washington DC within one year. As we saw under Trump, just the attempt to move the sleepy little Interior Department far from DC was a catastrophe until the Biden Administration reversed it.

Though Davidson claims this will improve government, it will obviously do the opposite. First and worst, by moving most the federal workforce out of DC it will give lobbyists a louder voice in federal policy. Second, as we saw with the Department of Interior, a great many people will quit their jobs rather than relocate - the best and brightest have options. This will create a huge brain drain that would easily take a decade or more to recover from - again giving lobbyists more influence on how our tax dollars are spent. Third, it will make it harder for legislators to get information from agencies spread out all over the country. Fourth, it will make inter-agency collaboration far more difficult when trying to implement new laws - immediately weakening their implementation and enforcement. Finally, it will create an economic "depression" in one of the largest urban areas in America as a tsunami of residents leave the area en masse.

How does this law improve government? It does just the opposite. Just the top five concerns I mentioned should convince anybody that this bill is aimed at destroying representative government. Just think about corporate America. How many huge companies have their headquarters staff sprinkled all over the USA? Very few. Imagine closing down the iconic Pentagon, and how that would affect national defense? Such a move cannot happen in one year - more like 10 years at best. What it will do is put most decision-making in the White House - giving the president dictatorial (but underinformed thanks to staff chaos) influence.

How does this law enable special interests? K Street will likely fill all those vacant federal office buildings with lobbyists. Each agency headquarters will likely wind up with a mirror-industry influence headquarters across the street; but with three times the staff. Want to guess where those new lobbyists will come from? You can bet it will be Feds who quit their government jobs rather than relocate. States too will gain in influence and demand that each state get at least on agency. Imagine the next pandemic if HHS is relocated to Alaska.

What will this law cost the taxpayers? The answer is hundreds of billions, if not more. It is not like there are office buildings standing empty across the US to absorb a tsunami of federal employees. Those new buildings will have to be contracted and built - in one year? The government will have to pay to move those who are willing to relocate. That usually includes closing costs on home buys; not just moving vans. Of course, many people will not be relocating because, overnight, their home values will plummet. It is reasonable to expect the government will have to offer huge incentives - to compensate for what could easily become a 50% drop in home values (like half a million dollars) - just to get federal employees to move. With so many people leaving government service, federal services for citizens will collapse.

What will this cost the private sector? The impact of a mass migration from DC will create an instant depression - not just a recession. That is what happened in the towns around Cape Canaveral when NASA's budget was slashed after the moon landing. Although the swamp might be draining in DC, most DC area homes will be under water because a lack of buyers. Home and office-building values will plummet from some of the highest in the US to some of the lowest. There are likely several private-sector jobs like craftsmen, sales staff, mechanics, restaurant staff, etc., whose income depends on federal employees. Thus, the DC migration could be two or three times the size of the federal-workforce migration.

Next, ask yourself, who else would benefit from draining the swamp? States for one, especially those that have income taxes. Now think of the cost of building new headquarters all over the US using our tax dollars. What do we do with the empty headquarters buildings back in DC? They might fill with lobbyists' offices at discounted rents due to vacancy levels. Of course, it is remotely possible that Trump and his pals will sweep in, buy those buildings at 10 cents on the dollar and, I don't know, turn them in to hotels or homeless shelters? One thing is certain - the Drain the Swamp Act would turn DC into a ghost town, and shift capitalist power back to New York City's Wall Street's billionaires.

Make no mistake. This bill would be a Reichstag fire, if passed. It is clearly unworkable, and is likely motivated by a cynical congressman who just wants to score political points with right-wing voters who find federal regulation limits their billions in profits.

(Article changed on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:03 PM EDT)

(Article changed on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:06 PM EDT)

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I'm a psychologist and retired Navy Captain (two combat tours). In 2000, I joined NIH as a national research program official, science officer, and faculty member. Before retiring to Happilyeverafter on the Florida Coastline, I have lived in (more...)

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2021 Drain-the-Swamp Act is the Kill-Democracy Act

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