Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He became the first president in the history of the United States to bounce a military paycheck.

Last week, most of the 800,000 furloughed or unpaid federal workers affected by the current government shutdown missed their first paycheck. Because the Coast Guard is paid on a slightly different schedule, however, Trump was temporarily spared the embarrassment of having to become the first American president ever to force military servicemembers to go without pay.

Today, members of the Coast Guard missed their first paycheck

The cause of the shutdown is Trump's insistence that he will not sign an appropriations bill that doesn't contain money for a border wall. (His 2019 budget proposal did not include a request for any such money.) The Coast Guard is one of the country's primary immigration law enforcement agencies, but is not performing that mission during the shutdown due to lack of funds.

Trump, who inherited the equivalent of about $400 million dollars from his father, has mostly shrugged off the hardships caused by missed paychecks—in part because he seems to think federal workers are mostly Democrats. But he has recently bragged to a military audience about legislation he'd signed raising their salaries by 10%, claiming that it was the first raise they'd received in "ten years." (This was a double-barreled "pants on fire" lie. Military pay increased by a fairly typical 2.4% in 2018, and the armed forces haven't gone without a raise in any year since 1983.)

Prior to Trump's most recent shutdown, no American military force has been required to serve without the promise of pay since the Revolutionary War. 

Why does this matter?

  • The commander-in-chief of the United States' armed forces cannot be this callous or incompetent towards those under his command.
  • One way to increase border security would be to pay existing border security agencies to secure the border.