Today is January 22, 2019, and marks the 32nd day of the partial shutdown of the United States Government. Despite the political wrangling, it appears that no end is in site. Although the inability to receive basic governmental services can create a hardship for folks in general, the shutdown is having a devastating effect on the 800,000 governmental employees who have been furloughed or are expected to work without compensation.
In December 2018, while he was meeting with various leaders, the President said he would be proud to own the shutdown if a resolution could not be reached. True to form, however, he has pointed the finger at the Democrats and blamed them repeatedly. The President reached a bi-partisan agreement to resolve the government funding problem and ward off a shutdown. But, after the passage of a bill by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and after being criticized by Fox News and others, he declined to sign the bill.
This is not the first time he has said he would support some legislation or plan, then refused to follow through with his agreement. The President has held himself out to be a great negotiator, yet he was unable to accomplish many of his stated goals during the first 2 years of his Presidency. And his failure is made worse by the fact that his party enjoyed control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first 2 years of his Administration. If he could not pass the legislation he proposed with a Republican-controlled Congress, it seems unlikely that he will be able to garner support for his ideas with a Democratically controlled House of Representatives for the next 2 years.
He has publicly stated that the government shutdown is likely to go on for a long time as long as the legislature is unwilling to meet his demands for the funding of the wall at the Southern Border. The Democrats seem just as firm that they will not give in to the President’s demands on the border wall funding. Ultimately, the government will re-open, although the circumstances under which that will occur are still unclear. And, many of the furloughed employees will be paid for the period of the shutdown, an issue that has multiple faces.
Many of President Trump supporters dislike the government and are quite distrustful of it, seemingly believing that government waste runs rampant. The funds that are ultimately used to pay its employees come from taxes assessed against individuals and businesses. From the taxpayer’s perspective, it seems ridiculous for people to be paid when many of them will not have worked during the shutdown. It’s not fair to the taxpayer to have the tax money paid in squandered as a result of political wrangling. On the other hand, it is certainly unfair to the government employees, to go unpaid because of political wrangling. And, many employees are required to work despite the lack of current compensation. Like most people who work to support themselves and their families, government employees are not independently wealthy. They have bills to pay, and their creditors do not generally care what nice people they are; creditors only care about getting the money they are owed.
The employees may ultimately be paid for the time the government is closed. It is unlikely, however, that all of them will survive with their financial lives intact. They will be the victims of a President hell-bent on getting his wall built, the same wall that he assured us throughout the campaign Mexico would pay for. And whether you support government employees or not, the results of this shutdown will hurt the employees, and that just isn’t right.
When and if he runs for re-election in 2020, let’s all remember to whom this government shutdown belongs.