Proposed Budget Cuts Weaken Nation’s Ability to Serve Taxpayers

Press Release March 16, 2017

Washington, D.C.— President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, which cuts billions from critical government agencies, is an outrageous attack on federal workers and the services they provide to all Americans, said National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon.

“This budget proposal has nothing to do with draining the swamp and everything to do with hurting regular Americans,” said Reardon. “Starving the very agencies that serve taxpayers every day, in ways big and small, is a cruel opening bid in the annual debate over our federal budget.”

In addition to the $54 billion in cuts proposed for 2018, the NTEU leader also expressed deep concerns about a recommended cut of $18 billion from non-defense discretionary spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The cut was included in a supplemental appropriations request for 2017. “A cut of that magnitude over a five-month period would be devastating to the agencies’ ability to conduct their day-to-day work,” said Reardon.

Such anemic levels of funding, if enacted, would immediately threaten the jobs of thousands of middle-class American workers as well as the greater U.S. economy. Because 85 percent of the federal workforce lives outside the Washington D.C. area, the job losses would ripple throughout small towns, suburbs, cities and military bases in every state.  

“NTEU intends to spend this budget season on Capitol Hill fighting these cuts and reminding Congress that federal employees are part of our country’s backbone and taxpayers deserve nothing less than to have a government that is capable of being responsive to their needs,” Reardon said.

NTEU is still analyzing the details of the budget proposal with a close eye on agencies with large numbers of NTEU members, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Energy, the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. These agencies and others need a steady, professional workforce with experience and dedication to the mission, not a wholesale outsourcing to more expensive and less accountable private contractors.

The proposed 31 percent cut to the EPA is especially egregious because it dismantles an agency that has saved lives by reducing pollution and raising our standard of living.

For instance, the $129 million cut to the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance budget will be catastrophic for local communities. This office goes after pollution problems that impact communities with the most serious water, air and chemical hazards.

The proposed $239 million cut to the IRS continues the backward slide of the agency responsible for collecting the money that keeps our country running. “IRS has already lost 17,000 employees in the last seven years, and even fewer IRS workers means fewer tax cheats are caught and taxpayers can’t get the help they need, which hurts everyone,” Reardon said.

At HHS, where a damaging 18 percent cut is proposed, an example of the devastating cuts would be the elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides lower income families with assistance in paying their heating bills during the coldest months of the year.

“This is an unwarranted attack on the federal workforce,” Reardon said. “Federal employees are nonpartisan: They work on the priorities set by the administration that is in office and carry out the laws passed by Congress. Rest assured they will carry on and do their jobs admirably, as always, but I worry about the long-term effects that such an austere budget proposal will have.”

Federal workers are proud civil servants who chose to work for the public good because they believe our government has a role to play in improving the lives of all Americans. Whether it’s through enforcing environmental laws, inspecting imported goods at the border, prosecuting financial fraud, or reviewing the safety of new food and medical products, NTEU members and all federal employees do work that matters to our well-being as a nation.

In a recent survey, 78 percent of NTEU members said they were worried about their job security and 81 percent said morale was declining or poor. “The anxiety this process has already caused within the federal workforce is palpable,” Reardon said. “This outline released today demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of government in our society. Don’t forget that behind every number on these spreadsheets is a service, grant or research project and a taxpayer who depends on them.”