Don’t Give an Inch but at What Cost?

No sooner had I written that I could not find any evidence of a single furloughed federal worker who supports the president in shutting down the government in favor of a southern border wall, (Faces from the Crisis, Jan. 14), then The New York Times reported late Monday (Jan. 14), that there are some federal workers – in Parkersburg, West Virginia – who support the president’s position.

“ ‘We need the wall,’ Jessica Lemasters, 29, an accountant on furlough from the Treasury Department, said over lunch at the Corner Café… ‘I don’t like being furloughed, but it happens,’ ” The Times reported.

“ ‘I am concerned for my people,’ said Gregory D. Blaney, an aerospace engineer who runs a NASA facility in Fairmont, W.Va., and is working without pay. But, he added, ‘I’m willing to endure some impact if it means border security.’ ”

As I said on Monday, Democrats have offered money for “border security.” What they oppose is money for a border wall.

“Here in West Virginia,” The Times points out, “the shutdown’s effects are severe. The federal government employs nearly 3.5 percent of West Virginia workers — a bigger share than in all but six other states and the District of Columbia, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. …

“But border security is an issue that resonates in West Virginia, in large part because of the state’s opioid epidemic. While Mr. Trump overstated the amount of opioids flowing into the nation through the southern border in his Oval Office speech, many here see the wall as one way to stop the tide.”

In a fact check on the President’s address, The New York Times (Jan. 9), correctly points out that “Most heroin smuggled into the United States does come through the southwest border, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s latest National Drug Threat Assessment report. But most of it is smuggled into the United States through legal ports of entry at the southern border, not through the desert, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2018 annual drug threat assessment.

“A border wall would not address what experts see as the next, more deadly phase of the opioid epidemic: fentanyl. …

“Most fentanyl,” The Times says, “enters the United States from packages mailed directly from China through traditional ports of entry, according to the report, and through Canada from China.”

Despite facts brought forth by Trump’s own administrative agencies, some furloughed workers are willing to believe whatever Mr. Trump says versus facts from the experts.

We rely on government officials to tell us the truth, but when the highest elected official in the country consistently misstates facts and manipulates the truth to his own political advantage, that is deeply irresponsible.

We have only to remember the lies told by the Johnson administration about the Vietnam war, and those by Nixon regarding his involvement in the Watergate scandal to remember the decline of trust that came about after the public ultimately learned the truth.

On Monday, Trump addressed farmers at the annual Farm Bureau Federation in New Orleans.

“No one understands better than our great farmers,” Trump said, “that the tough choices we make today reap rewards for centuries to come. …

“Mr. Trump declared that his talks with China were going well, that farmers would soon see open access to China’s vast market and that they would be protected from what he described as efforts by the Chinese to illicitly acquire their intellectual property for seeds and other products. The scope of any China deal remains murky, however, as deep divisions remain between the two countries, which face a March 2 deadline to reach an agreement. Failure to broker a deal would cause the Trump administration to raise tariffs further on Chinese imports, escalating a trade war that has already rattled markets and provided a drag on the global economy. ..

“To help cushion the blow, Mr. Trump created a $12 billion bailout fund to compensate farmers hurt by the trade war. But that program is on hiatus and payouts are delayed because the Agriculture Department is not being funded during the shutdown.”

With Trump continuing to snake-oil his way through speeches and a shutdown that he said he was “proud” to own, how much more stress are farmers and federal workers willing to withstand? How much more support will they give a man whose grasp of reality has proven to be unreliable, at best and deceitful, at worst?

One month before he was censured by the U.S. Senate for his many false accusations in rooting out Communists in the federal government, Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy still received 35 percent support of Americans, according to a Gallup poll.

Trumpism appears to be the new McCarthyism but it comes at a greater cost to the many as well as the few.

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