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.
Georgia GOP governor orders several beaches to reopen days after acknowledging he’s woefully uneducated on coronavirus spread
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported today that Kemp is reopening Tybee Island and other beaches along the Georgia coast.
Local officials in several of Georgia’s coastal communities reacted with fury on Saturday after Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order simultaneously reopened several of the state’s most popular beaches.
The stupidity and lack of regard of human life on display in Republican-run states is beyond criminal and inhumane. In fact, there are no words to describe this. Because the longer these so-called “leaders” make decisions that are in the best interests of, I don’t know who, the longer it will take to come out of this pandemic that is claiming so many thousands of lives.
Health care insurers expected to jack up premiums as much as 40 percent to recoup coronavirus losses
Private health insurers are expected to raise premiums by as much as 40% to recoup the costs of coronavirus testing and treatment, according to a new analysis from Covered California, the state's health care marketplace.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Though it remains unclear how much the coronavirus crisis will ultimately cost in health care expenditures, insurers will be submitting their 2021 rates to state regulators next month. Analyzing a wide range of models, Covered California expects that this year's care associated with the virus will cost between $34 billion and $251 billion, or between 2% of premiums and 21% of premiums. The analysis estimates that insurers would price the costs at double the rate into their 2021 premiums, projecting increases that range from as little as 4% to more than 40% for the 170 million workers and individuals who have private plans.
Trump appears to have fraudulently manipulated financial markets yet again
Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
It was a busy week for the regime, as Trump and his team work tirelessly to manage the political fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it seems like he made time for some fraud.
In March, global oil prices crashed as a result of a dispute between Russia and the Saudis, dragging down stock markets and making it unprofitable to extract shale oil, which accounts for almost two-thirds of crude oil production in the U.S.