Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Vivek Ramaswamy, the rising populist challenger to former President Donald Trump ahead of the 2024 presidential election, vows to cut the federal workforce by 75% by the end of his term if elected.
There are roughly 2.2 million civilians working for the federal government, Axios reported. Ramaswamy told the news organization he intends to reduce that number by 50% in his first year in office.
"Keep in mind that 30% of these employees are eligible for retirement in the next five-year period," Ramaswamy said. "So, it is substantial, no doubt about it, but it's not as crazy as it sounds."
The Republican said he would use executive authority to "shut down redundant federal agencies" and attempt to reorganize the government.
Several agencies Ramaswamy particularly intends to gut include the FBI, a target for conservatives in recent years -- as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Department of Education, among others.
His comments drew derision.
"The idea that a president would have the unilateral capacity to fire a million people is farcical," Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told Axios.
But Ramaswamy says the president does have the authority to make such cuts without congressional approval by using executive orders.
Ramaswamy also made his remarks in a speech at the headquarters of the America First Policy Institute in Washington on Wednesday, televised by C-SPAN.
During that speech, Ramaswamy said federal regulations "act like a wet blanket" on the U.S. economy and vowed to cut 50% of those regulations.
Ramaswamy previously had said at an event in New Hampshire earlier this month that the Supreme Court would back his plan 6-3, given its current makeup.
Ramaswamy is not the only Republican presidential candidate to pledge to cut the government, but his plans seem to go farther than those of his peers. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to eliminate the IRS.
"This vision is not an original vision, I'll admit that," Ramaswamy said in his speech Wednesday.
"Good presidents, excellent presidents from Reagan to Trump have spoken to the same ideal, and I'll give credit to Donald Trump for taking more steps than have been taken in a generation in the direction."
In October 2020, Trump signed an executive order reclassifying about 50,000 federal positions as at-will employees, making it easier to fire them.
"But in order to actually get this job done, we're going to have to confront several myths that have been perpetuated in this town by advisers and members of the very bureaucracy that we're trying to shut down that we're going to have to confront and overcome," Ramaswamy said in his speech.
Later in his speech, Ramaswamy said: "It's like the equivalent of working at a company. The HR department does not actually determine the rules without reporting in to the CEO. It works the same way for the federal government, as well."