Wednesday, December 26, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He held about a quarter of the government hostage.

Asked today how long he would be willing to keep nine federal departments out of work or unpaid, Trump responded, "Whatever it takes."

That means that while Trump is waiting for funding for the fence of "artistically designed steel slats" that he repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for, the actual Bureau of Customs and Border Protection will reduce its operations—and the agents remaining on the job will be working without pay.

Other federal law enforcement agencies that will be scaling back operations and forcing employees to work without pay include the Secret Service, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Marshalls Service.

It also includes the United States Coast Guard—ironically giving those servicemembers a temporary 100% pay cut on the same day that Trump lied to military personnel, saying that he'd given them a 10% pay raise. (In reality, it was 2.6%.) 

The shutdown will also force furloughs or unpaid work from employees of a number of other agencies with responsibility for public safety, including the Forest Service's firefighting units, the federal prison system, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Weather Service. 

Trump claimed yesterday that "many" of the 420,000 federal employees now working without pay and the 380,000 who are being furloughed altogether supported his plan to cancel their salaries while he waits for Congress to give him what he wants. This is not true of either federal workers or Americans as a whole.

Trump currently lacks the votes in the Senate to pass a spending bill that would appropriate American taxpayer dollars for border wall construction. After January 3, he will also lack the votes in the House of Representatives.

Why does this matter?

  • Presidents should understand, and care about, the fact that many working American families cannot afford to miss paychecks.
  • Lies about campaign promises are still lies.
  • A better "dealmaker" would not be in this position.