Thursday Reads: Let Them Eat Cake

Good Afternoon!!

It’s day 34 of the Trump government shutdown, and the Trump administration is mystified about why government workers who aren’t getting paid are so upset.

Roll Call: Wilbur Ross doesn’t understand why furloughed federal workers need food banks.

“I know they are, and I don’t really quite understand why,” Ross said when asked on CNBC about workers getting food from places like shelters. “Because, as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from a bank or a credit union are in effect federally guaranteed.”

He thinks they should just get bridge loans. I had to look that up, because I’m too poor to get any kind of loan. If they cut off Social Security checks I’ll be up shit creek. Of course if they do that, Trump Country may finally object.

But in addition to the federal employees who are set to miss another paycheck at the end of this week, there are many federal contractors who have no expectation of ever getting the missed payments back.

But so what? Ross thinks it’s not going to affect the GDP that much.

“Put it in perspective, you’re talking about 800,000 workers, and while I feel sorry for the individuals that have hardship cases, 800,000 workers if they never got their pay, which is not the case they will eventually get it, but if they never got it, you’re talking about a third of a percent on our GDP,” he said of the affected federal employees. “So, it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

He couldn’t care less if people are going without food, losing their health care, or getting evicted from their homes because they can’t pay the rent or mortgage.

Then there’s Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump.

The Washington Post: Lara Trump tells federal workers that their missed paychecks are sacrifices for the ‘future of our country.’

As the longest government shutdown in U.S. history persists, Lara Trump is urging federal employees to “stay strong,” noting that they are sacrificing “for the future of our country” — a message that drew criticism.

Trump, who is President Trump’s daughter-in-law and campaign adviser, told the digital news network Bold TV earlier this week that the president is fighting for “what he knows is the right thing to do.”

“It’s not fair to you, and we all get that, but this is so much bigger than any one person,” she said. “It is a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country, and their children and their grandchildren and generations after them will thank them for their sacrifice right now. I know it’s hard. I know people have families, they have bills to pay, they have mortgages, they have rents that are due. But the president is trying every single day to come up with a good solution here and, the reality is, it’s been something that’s gone on for too long and been unaddressed — our immigration problem.

And remember this one from a couple of weeks ago?

The Root: Top White House Advisor: The Shutdown Is Basically a Paid Vacation for Furloughed Workers.

If you ever wondered how out of touch the stars of the hit reality show The Real Beverly Hillbillies of the White House is with the American people, look no further than Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

On Thursday, as the longest government shutdown in American history continues and federal workers try to figure out how to try to make ends meet with no pay, Hassett told PBS’ NewsHour that employees who are struggling to survive with no end in sight were doing ok because they essentially got a free vacation.

“A huge share of government workers were gonna to take vacation days, say, between Christmas and New Year’s,” Hassett said, Talking Points Memo reports. “And then we have a shutdown, and so they can’t go to work, and so then they have the vacation, but they don’t have to use their vacation days.”

He added: “And then they come back, and then they get their back pay. Then they’re in some sense they’re better off.”

At least Hassett finally admitted that the shutdown is damaging the economy. Why do all these Trumpists wear permanent smirks?

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board comes right out and says it: There’s a word for forcing people to work for untold weeks without paying them.

The longest government shutdown in history is almost certain to extend into its 35th day Friday, denying some 800,000 full-time federal workers their second consecutive paycheck. It’s just a partial shutdown — nine out of 15 government departments and dozens of agencies are affected, representing about 44% of the federal workforce — but these employees will have endured nearly a month without their main source of income. That’s not counting half a million or more federal contractors whose work has also been cut off by the shutdown.

It’s shameful enough that hundreds of federal workers are reduced to lining up for free meals and other handouts, seeking temporary relief on their mortgages and asking for more time to pay their bills. What’s worse is that about 420,000 of them have been required to keep working throughout the shutdown, even though they’re not being paid, because their jobs are deemed “essential.” These include Border Patrol, Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration employees who are defending the United States from the very threats that prompted President Trump to shut down the government in the first place. Forcing “essential” workers to stay on the job makes a shutdown considerably less painful — and dangerous — for the general public, removing much of the urgency to strike a deal.

Yes, Congress has assured all these workers that they will eventually be paid the wages they didn’t collect during the shutdown. But in the meantime, forcing people to work without pay week after week becomes hard to distinguish from slavery. And the money they’re not collecting is money they’re not spending, either, which is dragging down the overall economy. (And we’re not even focusing here on how the shutdown is affecting the general public, including diminished or canceled federal services, closed federal parks, museums and other facilities, cutbacks in environmental enforcement efforts and some food inspections, and potentially an interruption in food stamp benefits.)

Emphasis added. It’s about time someone in the media said that.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi wielded the considerable power of the Speaker of the House against Trump yesterday, and forced him to back down.

Buzzfeed News: Donald Trump Says He Will Postpone The State Of The Union Until After The Government Shutdown.

President Donald Trump is backing down in a standoff over the State of the Union address with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, conceding that he would postpone giving the speech until after the partial government shutdown is resolved.

The president tweeted late Wednesday night that he would delay the speech rather than find an alternative venue, and would not give the address until he and lawmakers reach an agreement to end shutdown, which has been going on since Dec. 22 and is now the longest in US history.

I won’t reproduce the tweets, because they were written in English in complete sentences. There’s no way Trump wrote them, but apparently someone managed to explain reality to him.

His tweets followed a letter from Pelosi earlier Wednesday, informing the president that he couldn’t give the State of the Union from the House chamber while the government is still shut down.

“I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened,” Pelosi said in the letter.

The letter was a response to an earlier declaration from Trump that he still planned to give his speech on Tuesday, Jan. 29, from the House chamber, despite Pelosi’s insistence that he could not give the speech because of security concerns related to the partial shutdown.

Today the Senate will vote on two bills designed to end the shutdown. One is a joke; the other is a bill to reopen the government without Trump’s wall money.

The Guardian: Senate to vote on pair of bills that could end government shutdown.

The first bill, a Republican-backed measure, would meet Donald Trump’s demand for a $5.7bn wall along the southern border in exchange for temporary protections for young undocumented immigrants. The second would extend funding for the agencies that are currently closed through to 8 February….

However, it is far from certain whether either bill can garner enough support to pass the chamber. Democrats, who are opposed to granting funding for a border wall, likely have the votes to block Trump’s proposal. The Democratic proposal would have to win the support of at least 13 Republicans to reach the 60-vote threshold.

Mother Jones on the Republican bill: The Senate Republican Proposal to End the Shutdown Is Even More Extreme Than Trump’s.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump pitched a deal to end the shutdown that he forced after failing to get funding for his border wall. He framed it as a compromise, but the plan offered little additional protection for immigrants in exchange for the $5.7 billion Trump wants for the wall, and Democrats quickly rejected it. On Monday night, Senate Republicans all but assured the plan’s defeat by releasing a bill to end the shutdown that is far more extreme that what Trump proposed this weekend.

Republicans’ decision to propose crackdowns on migrant children shows they still have little interest in ending the shutdown. The heart of the bill reads like a wish list drawn up by hardline anti-immigrant activists like White House senior adviser Stephen Miller. Kerri Talbot, the federal advocacy director at the Immigration Hub and a former Democratic Senate immigration aide, said the bill’s asylum provisions were the most extreme she could recall seeing in legislation. “This is a Stephen Miller special and it is a Trojan horse,” Talbot told reporters on Tuesday.

The final 75 pages of the 1,301-page bill are misleadingly labeled the “Vulnerable Immigrants Protection and Security Act.” This section of the bill would make it impossible for many Central American children to apply for asylum in the United States at a time when record numbers of Central American families are seeking protection.

Specifically, the bill would force children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to apply for asylum from abroad for the next three years. Currently, children can come to the United States, make their asylum claim, and remain in the country while the claim is awaiting adjudication. Under the Senate bill, they would have to apply from abroad, under potentially dangerous conditions. They would also have to meet new requirements to receive asylum. They would be eligible for protection only if they have a parent or guardian in the United States who can take care of them, and the Department of Homeland Security would have to decide that granting them asylum would be “consistent with the national interest.”

The bill would also cap the number of children from those countries who can be granted asylum each year, make them pay an unspecified application fee designed to weed out “frivolous” claims, and block them from appealing in court. Finally, children could apply for asylum only if the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or a nongovernmental organization told DHS they were likely to be eligible for protection. There is no such requirement today.

If Central American children come to the United States despite those crackdowns, the bill would make it easier to summarily deport them.

Read the rest at Mother Jones.

This is getting too long, so I’ll end there and add a few more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?


47 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Let Them Eat Cake”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Joe Biden helped a Republican candidate in 2018 election.

    • Gregory P says:

      Disappointing but not surprising. He is part of the good old boys network of rich nitwits who think they have some sort of birthright to rule over us and/or make all the decisions that matter. It is like a game to them. The rest of us don’t really matter. It s all about social standing and impressing their circle of friends.

    • teele says:

      We had a great candidate going up against Upton, and Fred had to actually appear in public for the first time in a long time (he has been lurking in the shadows of Congress for 30 years). He stopped doing town halls about 15 years ago.
      Remember when the House passed Trump’s “Let’s Kill Obamacare” bill, which the Senate put a stop to? Upton’s office was saying he wasn’t going to vote for it 2 days before the vote (I know, because I called them). Trump called him and a couple of other reps into his den the day before the vote, and Upton switched up and voted Yes. It wasn’t until the end of the year that we saw why: Trump used his executive order thingy to place a tariff on washing machines that was specifically designed to benefit one manufacturer, Whirlpool. Fred Upton’s family founded the company, and his wealth is based on his stock in the company. 38% of the live births in his district are paid for by Medicaid, but screw his constituents. Fred is basicallly known only as the uncle of a supermodel, and the cousin of Aubrey McClendon’s widow. He has done plenty of nothing during his tenure in Congress, while his district has seen the loss of jobs in the pharmaceutical and cereal industries, as well as the washing machine industry — while he has protected his own livelihood, Whirlpool appliances are mostly made in Mexico now. Benton Harbor, the neighbor of Upton’s hometown of St. Joseph, was the first city taken over and stripped by Rick Snyder and his cronies, setting the stage for the poisoning in Flint. Upton did nothing to help.
      The fact that Joe Biden helped this guy instead of a Democrat is disgusting, and there is no way I would ever vote for Biden. Honestly, at this point, I would would do the unthinkable and vote 3rd party if it came down to Biden v Trump.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Let’s see if any paid speeches come back to “haunt” him with the press…like they did with Hillary. My guess would be no…because men can make money giving speeches, but womenz can’t.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The Denver Post: Editorial: Sen. Cory Gardner to break with Republicans on Trump’s wall — it’s the right thing to do

    Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner’s spokesman told us Wednesday he intends to vote for a clean funding bill that would open the government with no increased border-security funding attached.

    It’s the right thing to do.

    We cannot stress enough that our democracy’s health is at stake in this political stalemate. When we allow funding measures and budgets to be tied to policy objectives and pet projects, everyone suffers. Both parties are guilty of the malpractice, as we noted at about this time last year when Democrats were the ones orchestrating a shutdown in pursuit of protections for immigrants without legal status who were brought to America as kids.

    This 33-day, partial shutdown is driven by President Donald Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion for a wall on America’s southern border. It should stand as the last time our politicians abuse federal workers as though they are disposable pawns in a grander game of political chess.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Masha Gessen at The New Yorker: Trump’s Transgender Military Ban and Lessons from a Lifetime of Gender-Policing.

    Last week, I was in a bathroom in a café in Miami Beach. The café had two separate bathrooms, each with a toilet, a sink, and a locking door. One was marked “Women” and the other “Men.” I went into the women’s room, as I usually do. I overheard a conversation on the other side of the door.

    “There is a guy in there,” a male voice was saying.

    “I can’t believe it!” a female voice responded.

    “Yeah, he just marched right in. I was standing here waiting and I saw him go in.”

    “It’s not like it’s not clearly marked,” the woman said. “It says ‘Women’ right here!”

    The conversation continued as I washed and dried my hands. I braced myself for The Exit.

    It was my fifty-second birthday. I have been dealing with bathroom exits and entrances for nearly half a century.

    • Gregory P says:

      The solution is so simple for these single occupant restrooms. Just take the designation down and open them up for everyone. There is no point in having a designated restroom. Now I can understand it a bit when they have those massive communal restrooms but personally I hate those and in most cases they’d be better off just building a row of single occupant restrooms.

      • quixote says:

        As one of those people who just marches into empty single-occupant restrooms (there is always a line at the women’s room. Always.) there is actually one reason women might want their own: the ones used by men are a mess and stink. The women’s are far from spotless, but are usually about 10x less revolting.

        I’m sure NotAllMen, etc., but I’m guessing all you need is about every tenth guy to expect Mom to clean up after him to achieve that effect.

        • Gregory P says:

          I’ve been in a lot of men’s rooms that were very clean. They are kind of hit and miss depending on the quality of the establishment but I really think that restrooms that I go to that are for anyone tend to be very clean. But I have been in some that are way worse than you can imagine. Way, way worse.

    • NW Luna says:

      Interesting that the author talks about being non-binary yet makes a particular point of identifying the overheard voices as male or female.

      • NW Luna says:

        Also there’s quite a difference between having hairstyle and clothes not in conformance with current culture expectations for males or females, and using a communal restroom.

        I realize in this case it was a single restroom, but I’m applying the above to the questions of using a gender-specific communal bathroom regardless of personal anatomy.

      • Sweet Sue says:

        Interesting point, Luna.

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. joanelle says:

    Excellent post BB, thanks.BTW, do they give Republicans stupid pills? How could they not know about the fact that the non-working federal employees need $ to put food on their tables, pay mortgages, other bills and can’t work a part time job because if they don’t show up for their unpaid jobs they’ll be fired. Viciously cruel actions on Donny’s part.

    • bostonboomer says:

      They don’t have any empathy for real people, because they are filthy rich sociopaths.

      • bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      I love the bit about Wilbur Ross saying the salaries are federally guaranteed so why can’t they just get loans.

      This may sound crazy to people from planet Earth, but it reminds me of the old joke: borrow $100 from the bank and it owns you. Borrow $100,000,000,000 and you own the bank.

      Wilbur’s always been in Category 2. It’s what lenders do when taking on risky debt with super-high interest rates but where they expect to be bailed out by taxpayers (read federally guaranteed) if the loans do actually go bust. (So they get high returns *and* no real risk.)

      That’s the world Wilbur lives in. He just flat out said it by mentioning “federal guarantees.” All the real players have access to money that somebody else guarantees. Right?

  6. Gregory P says:

    Somebody please tell me. Why did Obama bait Trump into running for President? Everybody knows that when you humiliate a malignant narcissist by publicly telling him he can’t do something that he’ll go out of his way to prove you wrong. Just another in the long line of things Obama did to set the stage for this frightfest.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I think Dump would have run anyway – but that correspondents dinner performance was cringe-worthy for sure.

      I blame Obama and McConnell for keeping the Russia stuff under wraps and Comey for his very deliberate Clinton ambush.

    • quixote says:

      I blame Obama for lots and lots and lots of things (the two biggies: carefully holding back during his first 2 years when he had a Democratically controlled Congress and then “working with the Republicans” ad nauseam; and not putting the country on red alert when election stealing went beyond Republican shenanigans and even the damn *Russians* got involved)

      Anyway, where was I? I blame him for plenty, but laughing at the Dump is not one of them. The mistake too many made was not laughing at him constantly and mercilessly!

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. Pat Johnson says:

    I can easily place myself in the shoes of these federal workers. Living paycheck to paycheck was something I had to do for a number of years following a divorce.

    I was raising 4 kids and money was a tight stretch. We were paid every 2 weeks and sliding into those last few days before payday was challenging. There were times I had only enough gas in the car to make it to payday. The pantry was low on food and often we at macaroni as a main meal.

    The kids chipped in babysitting and paper route money. But I still had a job and got paid for doing it yet it would have been disastrous if I was expected to go without money for even a brief amount of time. I had little savings since there wasn’t much to save after bills were paid.

    Heat, lights, phone, gas, minimal cable, food, repairs, school dues, clothing, insurance and a mortgage took every cent. Thank goodness my kids were healthy because even then insurance did not cover everything.

    I spent many a night wondering how I was ever going to get ahead. But I was never laid off or furloughed. God only knows what disaster awaited us if that had occurred.

    Most people live like this. Payday to payday. The worry is immense and plays on emotions.

    These government workers do not deserve this tragedy. We all deserve better then what we are now facing.

    This is Trump at his worst.

  11. dakinikat says:

  12. bostonboomer says:


    Happy Muller Friday!!!!

  13. bostonboomer says:
    • bostonboomer says:

      According to the indictment, Trump campaign officials contacted Mr. Stone during the summer of 2016 about future releases from WikiLeaks, suggesting that Mr. Trump’s campaign knew about the stolen emails before they were released

      • bostonboomer says:

  14. bostonboomer says:

  15. NW Luna says:

    GOP senators clash over shutdown inside private luncheon

    “This is your fault,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at one point, according to two Republicans who attended the lunch and witnessed the exchange.

    “Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?” McConnell snapped back, according to the people who attended the lunch.

    Also during the lunch, McConnell made clear to Pence and others in the room that the shutdown was not his idea and was not working.