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Conservatives plan to dismantle the US government and replace it with Trump’s vision

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WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a year before Election 2024a constellation of conservative organizations is preparing a possible second term in the White House for Donald Trump recruiting thousands of Americans to come to Washington to dissolve the federal government and replace it with a vision closer to his own.

Led by long-established think tank Heritage Foundation and supported by former Trump card According to officials, the far-reaching effort is essentially a government waiting for the former president’s second term — or any candidate aligned with its ideals who can defeat the president Joe Biden in 2024.

With a nearly 1,000-page “Project 2025” manual and an “army” of Americans, the idea is to have the civic infrastructure from day one to dominate, transform, and abolish what Republicans call the “Deep State” bureaucracy, in part by laying off up to 50,000 federal employees.

“We need to flood the zone with conservatives,” said Paul Dans, director of the Presidential Transition Project 2025 and a former Trump administration official, who speaks of the endeavor with historic panache.

“This is a clear call to come to Washington,” he said. “People need to put down their tools of the trade, step out of their professional lives and say, ‘This is my lifetime moment of service.'”

The unprecedented effort is being organized with dozens of right-wing organizations, many new to Washington, and represents a shifting approach by conservatives who have traditionally sought to constrain the federal government Cut federal taxes and cut federal spending.

Instead, Trump-era conservatives want to gut the “administrative state” from within, firing federal employees they believe get in the way of the president’s agenda and replacing them with like-minded officials who are more willing to support the Government approach to meet a new leader.

The aim is to avoid the pitfalls of Trump’s first years in office, when the Republican president’s team was ill-prepared Cabinet candidates had difficulty gaining Senate confirmation and the policy met with opposition — from lawmakers, government officials and even Trump’s own appointees who refused to bow or break protocol or, in some cases, break the law to achieve its goals.

While many of the Project 2025 proposals are Trump-inspired, they are echoed by him GOP rivals Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy are rising among other Republicans.

And if Trump wins a second term, the work of the Heritage Coalition will ensure the President has the staff to continue his unfinished business in the White House.

“The first day of the president will be a wrecking ball for the administrative state,” said Russ Vought, a former Trump administration official who was involved in the effort and is now president of the conservative Center for Renewing America.

Much of the new president’s agenda would be accomplished by reinstating what is known as Schedule F — a Trump-era regulation that would reclassify tens of thousands of the two million federal employees into essentially random workers who could be more easily fired.

Biden had repealed the executive order when he took office in 2021, but Trump – and other presidential candidates – are now vowing to reinstate it.

“It scares me,” said Mary Guy, a professor of public administration at the University of Colorado Denver, who warned the idea would lead to a return to a political booty system.

Experts argue that Appendix F would create chaos in the civil service, which was revised during President Jimmy Carter’s administration to ensure a professional workforce and end political bias dating back to 19th-century patronage.

Currently, only 4,000 members of the federal workforce are considered political officers, who typically change with each government. But Schedule F could put tens of thousands of professional jobs at risk.

“We have a democracy that is threatened with suicide. Schedule F is just another bullet in the gun,” Guy said.

The ideas contained in Heritage’s coffee-table book are both ambitious and provincial, a mix of longstanding conservative politics and stark, attention-grabbing proposals that gained traction in the Trump era.

The Justice Department is undergoing a major overhaul, most notably reducing its independence and ending the FBI’s efforts to combat the spread of misinformation. It calls for increased criminal prosecution for anyone who mails or distributes abortion pills.

There are suggestions that the Pentagon should “remove” its recent diversity, justice and inclusion initiatives, which the project calls the “woke” agenda, and reinstate military personnel fired for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine .

Chapter by chapter, the pages offer a guide to the next president, similar to a handbook Heritage created 50 years before the Ronald Reagan administration. Written by some of the most prominent thinkers in the conservative movement, it is often laced with apocalyptic language.

A chapter authored by Trump’s former acting assistant secretary of homeland security calls for increasing the number of political appointments and moving office staff with law enforcement skills to the field “to maximize law enforcement capacity.”

At the White House, the book suggests that the new administration should “reconsider” the tradition of providing and securing workspace for the press corps White House Counsel is “deeply committed” to the President’s agenda.

Conservatives have long held a somber stance on federal offices, complaining that they are staffed by liberals intent on stopping Republican plans.

But Doreen Greenwald, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said most federal employees live in the states and are your neighbors, family and friends. “Federal employees are not the enemy,” she said.

While presidents typically rely on Congress to implement policies, the Heritage Project draws on what legal scholars call a unified view of executive power that suggests the president has broad powers to act alone.

To edge past senators trying to block presidential cabinet candidates, Project 2025 proposes placing top allies in incumbent administrative roles, as was done during the Trump administration to bypass the Senate confirmation process.

John McEntee, another former Trump official who advised the effort, said the next administration could “take a little tougher action than we did with Congress.”

Indeed, the role of Congress would be diminished — for example, by the proposal to abolish Congressional notification of certain foreign arms sales.

Philip Wallach, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who studies separation of powers and was not involved with the Heritage project, said there is a degree of “fantasy” about the president’s abilities.

“Some of these visions actually culminate in a kind of authoritarian fantasy where the president has won the election, so he’s in charge and everyone has to do what he says – and that’s just not the system of government that we live under.” ,” he said.

In the Heritage office, Dans hangs a faded photo from a bygone era in Washington, with the White House standing almost alone in town, dirt roads in all directions.

It’s a picture of what Conservatives have long wanted: a smaller federal government.

The Heritage Coalition conducts its recruiting efforts on the road, traveling all over America to fill federal positions. They occupied the Iowa State Fair this month and hired hundreds of people, and they’re building a database of potential employees and inviting them to take government training.

“It’s counterintuitive,” Dans conceded — the idea of ​​joining the government to downsize it — but said that’s the lesson of the Trump days about what it takes to “take back control.”

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