Sunday, September 2, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He "studied."

Trump kicked off Labor Day weekend by announcing last Thursday that he would cancel a planned 2.1% cost of living increase for federal workers in the coming year. This amounts to a 2-3% pay cut for the nation's two million federal employees, since their wages will be eroded by inflation.

Both Republicans and Democrats immediately condemned the move, with most people seeing it being less about saving money than about getting revenge on the federal union members who have successfully challenged him in court. 

But in order for the pay cut to legally take effect, Trump had to say that there were "serious economic conditions" affecting the country, which he did by pointing to the ballooning federal deficit. It's true that the deficit has sharply increased under Trump, thanks largely to his corporate tax cut, but the $25 billion Trump says the pay cut will save is only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue.

And, as economist Matt Yglesias pointed out, the money not paid to workers will not actually be "saved." Instead, it will be absorbed into the existing budget and spent in other ways.

Caught off guard by the unpopularity of the move, Trump said on Friday that he would "study" the move--almost making it sound as though it hadn't been his idea in the first place.
As we head into Labor Day, our nation pays its gratitude to the hardworking men and women who make our country run. And I’m going to be doing a little work over the weekend. I’m going to be studying, you know, the federal workers in Washington that you’ve been reading so much about. People don’t want to give them any increase. They haven’t had one in a long time. 
I said, I’m going to study that over the weekend. It’s a good time to study it — Labor Day.
Trump's public schedule has been blank the entire weekend, and he has spent today (and yesterday) at his luxury Virginia golf course. He has not made any public comment on pay cut, although he has found time for 19 tweets and two rounds of golf. Trump has gone to one of his golf courses 26% of the days of his presidency so far.

Why should I care about this?

  • Policies should be "studied" before they're put into place, not after.
  • Being president does involve doing actual work from time to time.