Thursday Reads: Let Them Eat CakePosted: January 24, 2019
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.
“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.
“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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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?