Despite Donald Trump’s campaign promises to “drain the swamp” and shrink the size of the federal government, the Trump administration has added millions of government workers and expanded the federal workforce to a size nearly equaling the record level reached during the Obama administration.
According to a report by Brookings, there were about 10 million people in the federal workforce when Obama took office at the height of the Great Recession. This number includes civil servants, postal workers, active duty military, contractors, and grantees. With billions in economic stimulus, Obama raised the number to a record 11.3 million then backed it down to about 9 million before leaving office in 2016.
According to Brookings, Trump “opened the contract and grant spigots,” adding more than 2 million jobs to the federal workforce. This includes 1 million new jobs in the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation and Department of Health and Human Services alone.
The size of the federal workforce, including contractors and grantees, is nearing the record level we saw during the Obama years.
Many of the contract employees work for projects in the Defense Department. According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration will have expanded the DoD budget by nearly 30 percent by the end of fiscal 2021. Defense Department contract employment has surged by about 20 percent.
This is yet another example where the rhetoric diverges from reality. Conservatives talk constantly about ending “big government.” But when they are in power, government continues to expand.
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