Day 28 of a partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.
Politifact reports (Jan. 16), “…shuttered federal departments and agencies employ more than 800,000 people, or roughly 40 percent of the federal workforce. … About 380,000 of the have been furloughed, meaning they cannot come to work and are not being paid. Another 420,000 aren’t being paid but are required to remain on the job. These include many officials in law-enforcement and homeland security, such as Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard. …
“Unlike federal employees, contractors have no history of pay being restored. There are an estimated 4.1 million people working on federal contracts; it’s not clear how many of them have been sidelined by the shutdown.”
They deserve better than this.
Writing in The Atlantic (Jan. 10), author James Fallows makes three important points:
“As recently as three weeks ago, Donald Trump was perfectly willing to keep the government open and defer funding for his wall— until a right-wing chorus made fun of him for looking ‘weak.’
“Trump and his Congressional party never bestirred themselves to fund this wall back when they had unquestioned power to do so, during the era of Republican control of the Congress in 2017 and 2018.
“The U.S.-Mexico border has come under more control in recent years, not less. It’s been controlled by fences and walls in the busiest areas — as has been the practice for decades. The ‘crisis’ is the politics of the issue, not its underlying realities.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump supporter, called for a short-term deal to reopen the government while negotiations about border security continue. Fellow Senators Susan Collin, Cory Gardner and Lisa Murkowski have all supported passage of bipartisan appropriations bills that would allow all 800,000 federal workers back to work. However, the decision to do so is in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
On Tuesday, McConnell, The Hill writes (Jan. 15), “ruled out a scenario where the chamber would try to override a veto from President Trump as a way out of the partial government shutdown.
He’s up for re-election in 2020.
“…Twenty Republicans are not going to join with 47 Democrats and override a veto on this issue,” Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, told reporters late last week. ‘It’s like many other discussions here, a waste of time.’ ”
The country deserves better leadership than this.
Do Democrats merit any blame?
Strictly speaking, they’re all responsible because their job – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – is to solve problems. However, two things change this equation:
1/ As Fallows points out, Trump had already agreed to short-term funding bill until… he watched his favorite cable show, Fox & Friends, and listened to Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh harangue him for backing down on funding for a wall.
2/ In an early December Oval Office meeting between Democrats and the president, in full view of cameras, Trump said that if he didn’t get $5.7 billion for his wall, he would be “proud” to shut down the government.
Worse still, the U.S. economy has continued to see significant growth. However, “…revised estimates from the Council of Economic Advisers show that the shutdown, now in its fourth week,” The Times reports (Jan. 15), “is beginning to have real economic consequences. The analysis, and other projections from outside the White House, suggests that the shutdown has already weighed significantly on growth and could ultimately push the United States economy into a contraction.”
– Despite Trump’s assurances to farmers and others about trade talks, nothing… absolutely nothing has been finalized with China, Japan and Europe.
– Due to Trump’s influence, “sanctions appear likely to be lifted from companies controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska,” The Times writes (Jan. 17).
Who is Deripaska?
A Putin ally and “…bit character in the story lines around the investigation as a result of his relationship with Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman…”
– The Times also reported (Jan. 15), that Trump took away an interpreter’s notes of a private meeting Trump had with Putin in July of 2017.
– “Senior administration officials told The Times (Jan 14), “that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. … “Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr. Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr. Putin secret from even his own aides, and an F.B.I. investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.”
Concerned yet, Trump Nation?
– Jan. 17, NPR reports that “OIG found more children over a longer period of time were separated by immigration authorities and referred to HHS for care than is commonly discussed in public debate. How many more children were separated is unknown by us and HHS,” Ann Maxwell, assistant inspector general for evaluations at the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters.”
– Dec. 19, 2018, regarding U.S. troops in Syria, Trump announced: “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won.”
– Jan. 16: no sooner had Vice-President Mike Pence announced, “Thanks to the leadership of this commander in chief and the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces we’re … bringing our troops home. …ISIS has been defeated,” than ISIS claimed responsibility for the latest suicide bombing that killed four Americans.
– June 13, 2018: Trump announces that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
– Jan. 16: Vice-President Pence states that “While the president has started a promising dialogue with Chairman Kim, we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region.”
While all the latest Trump shenanigans were taking place, Republican Leadership moved to strip Representative Steve King (IA), of all of his committee assignments after King, on the floor of the House, “made inflammatory statements and racist behavior.”
No similar action taken after Trump’s “very fine people on both sides,” regarding the white Nationalists Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville in August 2017, among a whole host of other belittling comments the president has made about others like Sen. Elisabeth Warren.
We deserve better than a man who is inherently dishonest, has no sense of respect, no demonstrable compassion, acts impulsively, and refuses to listen to military leaders who have more leadership experience in their little finger than Trump has in his entire 72 years of life.
P.S.: And I haven’t even mentioned the allegation by Trump attorney Michael Cohen that, at Trump’s request, Cohen paid to have election polling “rigged,” as reported by The Wall Street Journal. (Well, I guess I have now.)