The president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have made it abundantly clear that this is all a performance to them.
Trump had two years of Republican control of the House and Senate and failed to prioritize his premier campaign promise: increased border security. A GOP-controlled Congress didn’t pass so much as an e-verify expansion bill, let alone secure funding for his wall. He waited until the eleventh hour before he lost control of the House to stamp his foot and demand last-minute funding for the wall. He then shut down the government and declared it an act of bravery.
In theory, Trump handed a blank check to Pelosi. Trump owns the shutdown, and he needs to end it. For $5.7 billion in wall funding, Pelosi can ask for almost anything she wants.
But she hasn’t. Rather than secure the fates of 700,000 Dreamers and demand that the president grant them amnesty in order to achieve his beloved wall, she’s simply sneered in his face, glowing in the approval of the #Resistance for hurting Drumpf’s feelings and refusing to give him what he wants. You want your wall? Well you can’t have it, loser! Take that, President Cheeto!
Think about it. Pelosi has a blank check that costs a mere $5.7B, a drop in our multi-trillion dollar budget. Yet she’d rather spite Trump and leave hundreds of thousands of government workers without paychecks than actually cash in her potential prize.
The generous conclusion here is that we’re being ruled by children. The honest one is that we’re ruled by tyrants.
Our corrupt ruling class would rather posture to their bases than actually win anything for them. The shutdown’s economic costs aren’t just threatening our gross domestic product and stock markets. There are actual lives in financial and physical danger.
The shutdown will put the safety of the border, the very entity the president shut down the government to protect, in real jeopardy if it continues. The shutdown has effectively halted all Border Patrol training, and because most Department of Homeland Security recruiters are furloughed, the department is hemorrhaging staffers without hiring new ones.
If the shutdown continues for another week, federal district courts will run out of funds, halting civil proceedings. Federal workers will go a second pay cycle without a check.
States are clamoring to issue February food stamp funds to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients early, as the program has no proper funding past January. By March, the 38 million SNAP recipients — the majority of whom are children, elderly, or disabled — will likely receive no funding for food.
All of this ignores the businesses, from Walmart to local grocers, who rely on SNAP spending and customers who are federal employees without pay for their revenue.
And according to congressional staffers talking to McKay Coppins at the Atlantic, the politicians orchestrating the whole charade couldn’t care less. Coppins reports:
Even if some of their worst-case shutdown scenarios remain unlikely — there are still plenty of paths forward that don’t include body counts — the defeatism on display is revealing. It exposes the extent to which the latter-day crisis of faith in America’s core political institutions has infected even the members of the institutions themselves.
On Wednesday night, I spoke with a Democratic House aide who confessed that she was ambivalent about the shutdown. The battle had unified her party, with Democrats linking arms in defense of their ideals and in defiance of Trump. Polls suggested that a majority of Americans were with them, and that the ‘optics’ of the fight were good. ‘While it may be horrible for the country,’ she said of the shutdown, ‘it’s fine for the party.’
I’ve already made the case that the government is an unreliable employer, and the shutdown demonstrates the number of agencies, from the Transportation Security Administration to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, that must be privatized, downsized, or abolished completely. But those should be thoughtful, intentional decisions, not based on political posturing that punishes and blindsides millions of average Americans as collateral damage so our wealthy overlords can pander to their fans.
Trump needs to sit the speaker down and offer to fill that blank check with something significant enough that she can call it a win. Pelosi needs to accept the political opportunity of strong-arming Trump into a valuable concession that could help, say, 700,000 people in legal jeopardy who have already assimilated with our culture and contributed, as well as the moral cost of continuing this shutdown, all to keep a few billion bucks from the president’s hands.
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