AFGE President John Gage Calls on Presidential Candidates to Reinvest in America
WASHINGTON – Over the past eight years, the Bush administration has turned “government” into a four-letter word, minimizing and politicizing the role of public service in government. From Hurricane Katrina to Walter Reed to the United States Justice Department the results have been catastrophic. The way this administration has systematically sought to disassemble the federal government and hand over tax payer dollars to its contractor cronies has been shameful.
Agencies such as Social Security, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security exist to provide the public a much needed service. Dependable, reliable government service is the fabric of our society and we have always taken pride in our ability to take care of those in need. But our agencies have been under attack. Callous, anti-government actions taken by the current administration have harmed our ability to provide the services we were sworn to administer. That is why we are calling on our Congressional leaders and Senators Obama and McCain to reinvest in America – to restore the credibility of public service – to reinvest in these agencies so they can operate at their full, unfettered potential.
Reinvest in a Secure Retirement – The Social Security Administration has kept millions of Americans out of poverty for more than 70 years. However, over the past 8 years, the SSA has been depleted of funding. Its services are lagging and its staffing levels are too low. Social Security needs to be protected, not pillaged.
Reinvest in America’s Veterans – The current funding process and the political gimmickry displayed by the White House over the pass several years have endangered the impressive accomplishments of the world-class health care system, and diminished its ability to meet the growing demands arising from two wars and an aging patient population.
Reinvest in a Safer America – Employees of the TSA, DHA and DoD – the very people who protect our airports and our borders – have been under attack through the National Security Personnel System which eliminates statutory protections for employees resulting in overworked and underpaid staff at the frontlines of our national security.
Reinvest in the Civil Service – President Bush has worked tirelessly to privatize the federal work force, forcing agencies to conduct massive numbers of A-76 contracting out studies while simultaneously rewriting A-76, making it far more subjective and allowing agencies to award contractors even when bids submitted on behalf of federal employees were less expensive and more responsive.
The bottom line is that credibility – which systematically has been dismantled over the past eight years – needs to be restored in government public service. There must be a fundamental change in how the President views the role of government and public service. I hope that Senator Obama and Senator McCain – whoever will be in the Oval Office – will heed this call. A strong government is good for America. Somewhere in the past eight years, the Bush administration lost sight of that.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.