A closed sign is displayed at The National Archives entrance in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, as a partial government shutdown stretches into its third week. A high-stakes move to reopen the government will be the first big battle between Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump as Democrats come into control of the House. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The Shutdown is About to Get Real

Before today, it has been easy to argue over the partial federal government shutdown in emotional terms, and in visible images of certain closed facilities like the Smithsonian. But today, all that changes. Today is what should have been the first payday of 2019 for federal workers, and they are not getting a paycheck.
Rent and mortgage payments are due. Heating bills, electric bills, car payments, and tuition bills are due. Credit card bills to pay for Christmas gifts are due. And no money is coming in for hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
It’s easy for those of us who agree that America needs better border security to poo-pooh emotional reports of workers selling their stuff on Facebook and Craigslist to pay bills as media bias. But it’s not. Washington Post reporter Taylor Telford detailed some of the stories in a Friday morning story.
“Sells for $93.88 at Walmart. Asking $10,” a government worker wrote on a Craigslist ad for a Lulu Ladybug rocking chair. “We need money to pay bills.”
These problems are real, and they are pressing. The three rich spoiled brats involved in a joint tantrum over 0.14% of the federal budget don’t care about a few thousand dollars per paycheck. Trump doesn’t even keep his paycheck (a gross check, which paid bi-monthly is well over $16,000, which the rank-and-file outside of Washington would find impossibly extravagant). Pelosi and Schumer are both rich and have been financially secure for so long that they can’t remember the last time they had to worry about paying a bill–if they ever did.
Guidance from government offices have provided little comfort so far, some workers said. No one in Washington seems to know how long the partial government shutdown will go on, but there’s been little reason to believe the end is close. Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget has provided sparse advice other than encouraging workers to reach out to creditors and mortgage companies before debts become due. The Coast Guard published a tip sheet this week suggesting employees hold garage sales or sell things online, walk dogs or babysit or “become a mystery shopper” to get by.
“Bankruptcy is a last option,” the tip sheet read.
To hell with arguing about the morality of a wall. For a political fight between spoiled brats to cause other, innocent parties, to be forced into thinking about bankruptcy is immoral and unconscionable.
As much as I want a wall, I believe the reality of the shutdown, should it continue, will quickly overcome this political fight. Pelosi and Schumer have surely told Democrats to hold out, let their constituents’ suffering build up, and they’ll win. I believe Trump will dig in further, or resort to the lunacy of some kind of invented “emergency power” to get what he wants.
It’s easy for political pundits to see everything through the lens of policy or a personal love/hate for President Trump. It’s easy for Jim Acosta to fly (business or first-class, undoubtedly, or coach, in the back of Air Force One) to McAllen, Texas to demonstrate how safe the (walled) border it. Acosta is getting a paycheck.
Congress is getting a paycheck (don’t believe them when they express “solidarity” and preen about not taking their pay). Ask Democrat star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if she’ll give up her paycheck.
“I’ve gotta run!” Ocasio-Cortez told The Post when asked the question Thursday on Capitol Hill.
She then scampered down a crowded hallway to get in line for her mock swearing-in with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
There’s literally no pain for legislators and government officials who still get paid, to deprive those who have done nothing to deserve it from missing their bills, defaulting on mortgages, getting late fees and debt collector calls.
The only pain these legislators will feel is the angry phone calls. But they’re too cynical to care except to use that legitimate anger as a political weapon. Because our government is being run by a bunch of spoiled three year olds fighting over a toy. My 9- and 8-year-old boys would have solved this problem and built the wall weeks ago, because in comparison to the toddlers in stinky pull-ups we have in Washington, they are mature.
It’s about to get very real for those being used as pawns in a very stupid fight. Democrats have a reasonable offer on the table, for a near-insignificant amount of money. They want the shutdown to hurt. In fact, they’re counting on it. Trump is no better. He plays for an audience consisting of his supporters and Fox & Friends watchers (the same group).
Shame on them all.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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