Three days ago, this appeared in my Facebook o’ memories:
That was what happened during the nation’s longest government shutdown. Other than wildcat strikes by people who should not be government employees (air traffic controllers and the Internal Revenue Service), service people who should have been paid but weren’t (Coast Guard), and government services that weren’t provided because they shouldn’t be provided (beer labeling), the “shutdown,” in which 800,000 federal workers went without pay, went by with little notice for Americans who work hard and don’t obsess over politics.
(Just so it’s clear: I could not have cared less, nor could I care less, about the plight of those government workers. None of those federal employees helped anyone who lost their jobs in Barack Obama’s worst recovery in U.S. history. As a friend of mine pointed out, “after missing two paychecks, the government owes $6 billion to 800,000 workers. If my math is correct, that is $97,500 per worker. The median (average) household income in America — not average worker’s salary — is $61,858.” That’s how you know that government employees are overpaid.”)
Unfortunately, the “shutdown” has ended, as reported by the Washington Post:
President Trump on Friday announced a deal with congressional leaders to temporarily reopen the government while talks continue on his demand for border wall money, handing Democrats a major victory in the protracted standoff.
The pact, announced by Trump from the Rose Garden at the White House, would reopen shuttered government departments for three weeks while leaving the issue of $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall to further talks. …
Trump said that a congressional conference committee would spend the next three weeks working in a bipartisan fashion to come up with a border security package.
If a “fair deal” does not emerge by Feb. 15, Trump said, there could be another government shutdown or he could declare a national emergency, a move that could allow him to direct the military to build the wall without congressional consent. Such an action would likely face an immediate legal challenge.
“No border security plan can never work without a physical barrier. It just doesn’t happen,” Trump said in his remarks, during which he dwelled on his arguments for making good on his marquee campaign promise of a wall at the Mexican border.
Since the Dec. 22 start of the partial shutdown, Trump had insisted that Democrats must relent to his demand for wall funding before he would allow the government to reopen. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had insisted on no negotiations until the shutdown ended.
There is really no way to spin this except as Trump’s losing his nerve, unless Trump is really serious about the national emergency thing (which is of dubious constitutionality). For one thing, it apparently ends the possibility of eliminating those jobs.
As someone who did not vote for Trump and correctly supports him when he does the right thing and opposes him when he does the wrong thing, I am agnostic about the wall. But when you campaign on something, if you don’t get what you espouse, you lose, and voters take it out on you and/or your party at their next opportunity.
Politics, remember, is a zero-sum game. One side wins, which means the other side loses. In three weeks, there will be no movement on funding for the wall. Schumer and Pelosi have already said there won’t be. Then what?