White House spokesman Sean Spicer was only a few minutes into his press conference Monday afternoon before he made a statement that appears unsupported by the facts.
Listing three executive orders signed by President Trump on Monday morning, Spicer said the president “issued a memorandum outlining executive branch hiring … that counters the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years … in particular it prevents filling vacant positions and creating new positions except where necessary to meet national or public security responsibilities.”
The order, he said, does not apply to military personnel and “ensures that the American taxpayer gets effective and efficient government.”
It is an article of Republican faith since the New Deal that Democrats have expanded the federal workforce, but statistics do not bear this out, at least in recent years. According to this chart from the Office of Personnel Management, federal civilian employment was 2.094 million in 2009, President Barack Obama’s first year in office, and 2.079 million in 2014, the most recent year reported. Excluding the Department of Defense, the workforce remained almost exactly steady at 1.357 million.
Spicer is under fire after he denounced the press last Saturday for tweets that supposedly downplayed the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd size. While attacking reporters, Spicer offered a number of false statements, including that Trump had the largest in-person inauguration crowd size in history. At his press conference Monday he clarified that he was referring to the total audience for the swearing-in, including those who watched on television and over the Internet.
Spicer says there's been a "dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years." This is unequivocally false. pic.twitter.com/Gu8P2z9FZu
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) January 23, 2017
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