WASHINGTON – It could have been a scene out of The Apprentice, the long-running reality TV show hosted by former US president Donald Trump over the last decade.
On a small stage framed by American flags stood Mr Vivek Ramaswamy, the pugnacious – and sometimes irascible – multimillionaire entrepreneur vying to become the official Republican presidential candidate.
The setting was the America First Policy Institute, a think-tank that is often described as preparing for a second Trump term. Officially non-partisan, it is led by the former president’s domestic policy chief, Ms Brooke Rollins, and its staffers include eight former Cabinet secretaries.
Mr Ramaswamy, quite at home in the small but overflowing room of over a 100 people on a Wednesday morning, promised a revolution – not incremental reforms – if he were elected President.
Mr Ramaswamy’s “revolution”, as he sketched it, does not envision an overthrow – just federal downsizing on an epic scale.
Speaking with assurance, without notes or a teleprompter, Mr Ramaswamy never fumbled for words during his 45-minute address. The 38-year-old self-made millionaire said he would fire over one million civil servants and shut down five government agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Education and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Trump, 77, the Republican front runner by far, was not in the audience. But he would likely have approved it.
In his own 2016 campaign, he had promised to “drain the bureaucratic swamp” in Washington and rid the government of corruption and wasteful spending.
Analysts credit Trump’s political success partly to his image built through The Apprentice, where he hired and fired aspirants vying for a real-world prize: the chance to run one of his businesses.
“There are three branches of the US government, not four. We must shut down the fourth branch of government,” said Mr Ramaswamy, referring to the roughly 2.25 million-strong federal bureaucracy.
“They don’t have the same political oversight as Members of Congress or the President. You cannot fire them on Election Day.”
But fire them he would. Mr Ramaswamy said as president he would retrench more than 75 per cent of the federal bureaucracy, which conservative pundits and politicians have for long called “bloated”. In effect, a president Ramaswamy would fire more than 1.6 million federal employees.
While his proposals may seem drastic or unrealistic, this is election season in America. It is not unusual for candidates in primary elections, through which the parties select their presidential candidate, to draw attention to themselves through audacious proposals. These help the contestants stand out in a crowded race and enable them to attract primary voters, who are more faithful to party ideology. The Republican Party has traditionally stood for small government.
Mr Ramaswamy has been more provocative than most – there are currently more than 10 declared contenders. He has floated a host of radical ideas, making headlines. Among other things, he wants to stop funding the Ukraine war effort. He has called climate change a “hoax” and wants to raise the voting age to 25 from 18.
As in all things, political calculation may be behind the voting age push by, paradoxically, the youngest man in the race: Mr Ramaswamy does not fare well with youth voters despite being a millennial.
To be fair, sweeping bureaucratic reforms seem to be the Republican flavour this election cycle. Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who places a distant second to Trump in Republican polls, has pledged to eliminate the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Education.
EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected]