Monday, January 28, 2019

The wall comes down

THE POLAR vortex known as Donald J. Trump, the one that froze 800,000 federal workers out of their rightful employment, finally broke after 35 days. In the process of partially shutting down the federal government, President* Trump may have done no small damage to the future of his White House, shutting down some percentage of his likelihood for being re-elected.

Speaking in the Rose Garden, Trump announced the end to the government shutshow he birthed, at the end of December, faced with the empty threats of Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and other bloviators in the conservative media ecosystem.

The Trump who spoke at the White House on Jan. 25 was a beaten man, forced to accept that, with the changing of the guard in the House of Representatives, he could no longer exert his will at will. The wall he conjured (as necessary to counter the immigration threat he conjured at the southern border) is not happening. Trump was forced to admit as much when he spoke.

“I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” he said, to a smattering of applause from various White House staffers and flunkies standing in for a grateful nation of federal employees, air travelers and food consumers.

◊ ◊ ◊

Then Trump returned to threat mode. “I had a very powerful alternative but I did not have to use it at this time,” he said, in a not-veiled recent threats to declare a national emergency to get the $5.7 billion for the southern border wall he promised his base voters back during the campaign. “Hopefully it will be unnecessary.”

Trump continued, saying that if the White House couldn’t get a “fair deal” on border security from Congress, “the government will either shut down or on February 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

But this last statement was probably bluster and BS. Trump got schooled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on this whole issue, and was forced to go to the woodshed because Pelosi’s been in Washington for years and knows the terrain Trump’s just learning to walk on. It’s not likely he repeats having his ass handed to him by a politician he shouldn’t have underestimated.

His threat remains; in spite of the agony and embarrassment the nation suffered the first time, The Don could drag us through this crap again. But since the first shutdown, Republican power brokers have whispered into his ear, making clear how bad shutdowns are for business — the health of the American business whose stewardship Trump made a cornerstone of his presidential campaign.

◊ ◊ ◊

ALL IN ALL, Jan. 25 was not a good day for The Don and his advisers: They threw in the towel to Pelosi and the congressional Democrats, walked away from a campaign promise he never should have made.

We can thank the Congressional Budget Office for undercutting the likelihood of a repeat shutshow performance with nothing more than business. The nonpartisan CBO found that the 35-day partial closure of the government cost this country $11 billion — about $3 billion in the last quarter of 2018 and an $8 billion hit to the first quarter of 2019.

Note: $3 billion of that $11 billion in gross domestic product will never be recovered, the agency said in a statement Monday.

◊ ◊ ◊

And we can thank the human factor — the wrenching, painful stories of the thousands of people affected by this non-crisis. Since the start of this needless debacle, Team Trump worked long and hard to neutralize its human dimension, to smudge or play down the fact that it was happening to real human beings in real time, suffering real financial pain.

So it’s additionally sweet that the Trumpists didn’t get any of what they demanded, regardless of their post-shutdown spin. It’s just a shame that it took so long, wasted so much time, and — thanks to the tantrum of the nihilistic narcissist-in-chief — incinerated $11 billion from the United States economy — almost twice what his useless border wall funding demand was for in the first place.

Image credits: Trump: Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press. Pelosi: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...