You have a better chance of seeing the Queen of Hearts in the card drop playing Three Card Monte on a Manhattan street corner than you do a honest reform bill out of Congress. The latest perfidious example the 17 billion dollar Veteran’s Administration bill which we are told will allow the VA Secretary to fire or demote senior executives for poor performance or misconduct. I watched Bernie Sanders stand up for cameras in the Capitol Rotunda and pitch this very provision as a major reason for going forward with it.
Only the bill really doesn’t allow the VA Secretary to fire anybody. It allows the VA Secretary to say someone’s fired but whether they actually are or not depends upon what the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (formerly the U.S. Civil Service Commission) says after the employee (assuming they don’t want to be fired) appeals it. In this adjudication the employee gets to present evidence and if the VA Secretary truly wants this turkey gone he’ll have to rebut. In short when the VA Secretary says someone’s fired it doesn’t mean some downcast is suddenly out there on the curb with a cardboard box of books, family photos and their coffee maker looking for a ride home in the middle of the day. Instead it means that the VA Secretary is energizing a platoon of lawyers who might or might not agree.
All in all it’s enough to make us taxpayers wish that the CIA really does assassinate government employees from time to time. Think of all the legal fees we could save. Not to mention the bother.