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Updated December 19th, 2023 at 16:57 IST

Vivek Ramaswamy unveils bold agenda: Repealing affirmative action and shrinking government

The centrepiece of Ramaswamy's platform is the immediate repeal of Executive Order 11246, which mandates affirmative action in federal contracts.

Sagar Kar
Vivek Ganapathy Ramaswamy.
Vivek Ganapathy Ramaswamy. | Image:AP
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Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, in a post on X today, outlined a radical agenda built on repealing affirmative action, slashing the federal workforce, and deregulating the economy. His central message: with enough "spine and knowledge," he'll unlock American prosperity.

The centrepiece of Ramaswamy's platform is the immediate repeal of Executive Order 11246, which mandates affirmative action in federal contracts. He criticizes it as "race-based quotas" and claims every Republican president since Lyndon Johnson has had the opportunity to undo it but none followed through. His stance, sure to ignite debate, promises to energise his base while drawing accusations of discrimination from opponents.

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Here is what you need to know about Executive Order 11246

Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 24, 1965, aimed to promote equal employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This order was a pivotal step in the U.S. government's efforts to combat discrimination in the workplace and establish affirmative action policies to redress historical inequalities.

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Key Provisions of Executive Order 11246:

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO): The executive order mandated that federal contractors and subcontractors take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunities and refrain from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in their hiring and employment practices.

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Affirmative Action Requirements: It required these contractors to take proactive steps to expand job opportunities for historically marginalized groups, including racial minorities and women, in areas where they were traditionally underrepresented. This included measures such as outreach programs, targeted recruitment efforts, and setting specific goals and timetables for achieving diversity in the workplace.

Establishment of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP): The order established the OFCCP within the Department of Labor to enforce compliance with the provisions of Executive Order 11246.

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Criticism and Challenges:

Despite its noble intentions, Executive Order 11246 faced various criticisms and legal challenges over the years. Critics argued that affirmative action policies, designed to redress past discrimination, often led to reverse discrimination against non-minority groups. They contended that these policies favored specific groups at the expense of others and were unfair.

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Government on a diet?

Ramaswamy doesn't just intend to repeal Executive Order 11246. He also wants a 75% reduction in federal employees, arguing for a smaller, more efficient government. He plans to shut down “redundant agencies”.

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He has also stated he'll target regulations, vowing to rescind over 50% of them. He cites the Supreme Court's West Virginia v. EPA case as his guiding principle, suggesting he'll focus on rules deemed overly burdensome or exceeding constitutional authority. This promises to please businesses but alarm environmentalists and advocates for consumer protection.

While Ramaswamy's boldness grabs attention, questions hang over his plan's feasibility and consequences. Implementing it in full would require overcoming congressional hurdles and potential legal challenges. The economic and social effects, from job losses to potential discrimination, deserve thorough analysis and debate.

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Published December 19th, 2023 at 16:56 IST

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