Friday, January 11 marked the first day of 2019 in which roughly 800,000 federal workers missed a paycheck they would have otherwise received were it not for the partial shutdown of the federal government. Those workers fall into two main categories: (1) workers who have been furloughed, and (2) workers who perform what are considered essential services and must report to work without a definite pay date. Deprived of a paycheck, many of them are wondering how they’re going to pay their bills. But to hear White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett tell it, they are “better off” because of the shutdown.
During an interview for “PBS NewsHour,” Hassett asserted, “A huge share of government workers were going to take vacation days, say, between Christmas and New Year’s. 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. And then they come back, and then, they get their back pay.”
Hassett neglected to mention, of course, that until the shutdown ends, many federal workers won’t have any source of income—although their need to pay rent, buy groceries and pay their utility bills will continue. But Hassett is hardly alone among Republicans when it comes to being painfully out of touch about the economic hardships of others.
Here are some other examples of Republicans making clueless, insensitive or ridiculous statements about the partial government shutdown and all the misery it is causing federal workers in the U.S.
1. Rep. Mark Meadows
Rep. Mark Meadows—the North Carolina Republican who heads the House Freedom Caucus—has urged President Donald Trump not to sign any spending bill that lacks funding for a U.S. border wall. And his attitude is that if federal workers are hurting because of the shutdown, tough—they knew that shutdowns were a possibility when they signed up for government work. “It’s actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position,” Meadows callously said.
2. Rep. Tom Reed
To express their solidarity with federal workers who are suffering because of the shutdown, some members of Congress have volunteered to give up their paychecks. But Rep. Tom Reed of Upstate New York isn’t one of them. When CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked Reed if he would be willing to give up his paycheck, Reed responded, “I just don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to use a P.R. stunt or something along those lines.” In other words, Reed equates expressing sympathy for workers who have been temporarily deprived of income with a “P.R. stunt.”
3. Rep. Scott Perry
The fact that some federal workers are living paycheck to paycheck is lost on Rep. Scott Perry, who recently declared, “Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?” Members of Congress earn six-figure salaries, and unlike other federal workers, they continue to receive their paychecks during shutdowns unless they volunteer not to. But Perry, evidently, fails to realize that it’s much easier to have some savings when one is making six figures than it is if one’s salary is $25,000 per year.
4. Trump’s Office of Personnel Management
In late December, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) under the Trump Administration tweeted some advice for federal workers who are facing financial hardship because of the shutdown—including a ridiculous suggestion that they could offer to perform chores for their landlords in exchange for a rental reduction. The clueless tweet read, “Feds, here are sample letters you may use as a guide when working with your creditors during this furlough. If you need legal advice, please consult with your personal attorney.”
Amazingly, Trump’s OPM believes that furloughed workers making $25,000 or $30,000 have a personal attorney on retainer.
CNN’s fascinating series ‘The Windsors’ confirms why the dysfunctional royal family still rules
"The Windsors: Inside The Royal Dynasty" knows damn well you don't want to wait 100 years to get to Meghan. The Duchess of Sussex — well, a dreamy, imagined version of her as she prepares to walk down the aisle on her wedding day — is the first figure we see in CNN's new six-part documentary series, before the story time jumps back a few generations. "But all that glitters is not gold," our narrator Rosamund Pike warns, as our American television star embarks on an alliance with a family that "will do whatever it takes to survive." Corny? Yes. Unsubtle? Absolutely. A deliciously soapy reality show involving a dysfunctional clan with posh accents? Sign me up.
Is being a billionaire a disqualifier for office?
As predicted in this space back in December, phase one of the Bloomberg 2020 media coronation is well underway.
The former Mayor of New York City has spent years funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to non-profits, cultural institutions, the academy, and political candidates. Now, it has paid off with a bumper crop of endorsements.
In the process, he has collapsed former Vice President Biden's support in the African-American community in South Carolina over just several news cycles.
Your tax dollars at work: Trump admin’s new policies more alarming than president’s vengeance campaign against perceived enemies
So, while Donald Trump has been parading his vengeance campaign against perceived enemies, what’s his actual government been doing?
Inquiring skeptics want to know.
Mostly, once we set aside the pomp of awarding undeserved medals to Rush Limbaugh and continuing to irritate foreign leaders who had considered themselves allies, the answer is that the government continues to pursue the anti-immigrant, anti-science, anti-environmental policies that have marked the last three years.
He is promoting a candidate for the Federal Reserve board who believes in returning the country to valuing the U.S. dollar to the gold standard, a policy rejected decades ago, he is talking about cutting a fifth of U.S. aid to foreign countries, and he is backing an end to fighting fraud in student loans. A deputy secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs has dismissed, while the department has been spending millions in outside health services with no apparent accountability. And the Pentagon has been ordered to halt a $10 billion computer project because of a lawsuit filed by Amazon that says Trump put his heavy thumb on the scale to keep the contract from going its way.