A sign of one’s good character is when one makes a promise, one keeps that promise. But what happens when keeping that promise creates a nightmare. A nightmare of stress, debt, illness and possible loss of life. That nightmare is happening now! It’s the current government shutdown created literally by one person, President Donald Trump.
President Trump’s rationale for causing America’s government shutdown nightmare is that he is keeping a promise he made to build a wall on America’s southern shared border with Mexico. Even if you ignored all the pain and suffering the government shutdown has caused there is only partial truth in President Trump’s promise claim. It is true that President Trump said many times during his presidential campaign that he would build a wall, but every time he said he would build the wall he also said Mexico would pay for the wall.
He never said If Mexico or Congress wouldn’t pay for the wall that he would create a government shutdown to force the issue. The notion that American taxpayers would pay for the wall was NEVER mentioned or thought about by anyone. In fact when candidate Trump would say “I going to build a beautiful wall” the crowd would shout back “and Mexico will pay for it”. No one in the crowd ever shouted if Mexico won’t America will or held up a sign suggesting a government shutdown should ever happen over the issue.
The sentiment of the vast majority of Americans over the government shutdown is reflected in an NPR/Ipsos Poll. It found that three out of four Americans (74%), with 58% of Republicans agreeing, believe that the government shutdown is embarrassing for the country. It also found that most Americans (71%) believe that Congress should pass a bill to re-open the government immediately while budget talks continue, with 56% of Republicans agreeing. Only 31% of Americans believe that the government shutdown should continue until there is funding for the wall.
Once again President Trump is playing the spin, exaggerate, mislead, and even straight out lie if necessary card. Just like when he falsely claimed that Canada was a national security threat as part of his eliminate all trade deficits with the world plan, or when he sent military troops to the southern border with Mexico, claiming it was to stop an invading force of immigrant caravans hell-bent on illegally entering America. He now attempts to justify the government shutdown by claiming it’s to stop a humanitarian and national security crisis occurring on the border.
In a nine-minute address, which was his first from the Oval Office, President Trump declared “The federal government is shut down for one reason and for one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.” Here he played the straight out lie card, there is a government shutdown for one reason: President Trump!
In an oval office meeting with Democratic leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, President Trump bragged “If we don’t get what we want I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck”. To add insult to the government shutdown and the injury being caused to the 800,000 government employees not being paid, the crisis the President claims is happening on the border is FAKE.
For instance, President Trump falsely says there has been a dramatic spike in illegal drugs entering the country at the southwest border. But according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there was an increase in the number of seizures of the legal drugs methamphetamine and fentanyl from the fiscal year 2017 to the fiscal year 2018. And they didn’t come through the southern border by illegal immigration, a 2018 Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) drug threat assessment report, states that they along with cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs highlighted by Customs and Border Protection passed through legal ports of entry, not through illegal border crossings. The DEA traced most drugs brought into the country to privately owned vehicles passing through legal ports of entry, an example of this is drugs being mixed in with legal goods on tractor-trailers.
Another lie is about the national security threat crisis on the border. The State Department has said that no terrorists have been found crossing the southern border from Mexico into the U.S. In its 2017 report, the State Department said there was “no credible evidence” indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico or sent operatives into the U.S. Only 41 people on the Terrorist Screening Database were encountered at the southern border from Oct. 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, 35 of them were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and 6 were classified as non-U.S. persons.
But even if President Trump was speaking the truth about the illegal drug and national security threat, it wouldn’t justify the pain and suffering the government shutdown is causing 800,000 federal employees. Unemployment offices are reporting an uptick in claims from federal workers. Among the applicants: a scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency, a judge for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a data analyst at the Department of Transportation. More than 4,700 federal employees filed for unemployment in the last week of December, compared with 929 the week prior, according to the Department of Labor.
On last Friday 800,000 government employees received pay stubs with nothing but zeros on them, in Florida the Miami airport closed a terminal last weekend because Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screeners have been calling in sick at twice the normal rate. Ellen Jackson, a $38,000 a year TSA officer based in Las Vegas, is driving full time for a ride-share company to get by. Fellow Las Vegas-based TSA agent Julia Peters applied for food stamps on Thursday and was approved. She said five of the eight other applicants at the benefits office were also TSA workers.
The last paycheck the 800,000 government employees saw was 2 weeks ago before the government shutdown, which means most are relying on GoFundMe campaigns and food pantries to survive. In Denver, three-quarters of the people who visited the Food Bank of the Rockies’ mobile pantry on Friday were furloughed federal employees, said Cait Barnett, a marketing specialist for the food bank.
Don Cox, president of the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, said the nonprofit group has opened up centers at Coast Guard stations in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, helping to feed 500 to 600 families a day which is about double the typical demand.
All the pain and suffering to 800,000 people, with the vast majority of them working jobs that have nothing to do with security on the border, is due to one person, President Donald Trump whose campaign promise has turned out to be a nightmare for 800,000 government workers.
All Americans want a secure border and are willing to pay for it if necessary, but most Americans are not willing to pay for it at the expense of 800,000 people working for no pay and for a wall that they don’t think is necessary. President Trump put aside your divisive politics, exaggerations, and lies and PLEASE REOPEN the shutdown parts of our federal government!!!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at isaacnewtonfarris.com on January 14, 2019.