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America elected a businessman to be its president. America believed that a businessman was better suited than a career politician to address the many challenges facing America.
Regardless of whether that thinking was accurate or not, the reality is that America elected the wrong businessmen to lead this country.
America elected a flawed businessman, a businessman whose business model relied on deceit, unethical behavior, ignoring established protocols, intimidation and the need to turn to Russia for financial support when American financial institutions turned their collective backs on him.
America elected a businessman who brought with him to the White House this same business model.
America learned during the self-inflicted disaster that was the 35-day government shutdown that this business model is not effective when applied to government and that the businessman it elected to the presidency is an ineffective leader.
Donald J. Trump caved after holding the federal workforce hostage to get the $5.7 billion he sought for the southwest border wall he promised his base of support during his presidential campaign.
He expected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, or as he calls her, Nancy, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to never allow the government to be shut down and would eagerly give in to his extortion demands. If extortion is not a high crime and misdemeanor, it should be.
When Trump sat in the Oval Office of the White House and said to Pelosi and Schumer, while on camera for the world to see, that he would “own the shutdown,” this failed businessman did not realize that he took his bargaining chip and flushed it down the proverbial toilet.
The budget bill that had been agreed upon by both Houses of Congress in December while the Republicans held majorities in each and which was rejected by Trump as a result of taunting by the likes of right-wing pundits like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh started to look pretty good to Trump after watching his poll numbers tank as a result of his “owning” the unnecessary and disastrous shutdown.
When he finally caved into Pelosi and Schumer, who made it clear during the entire government shutdown that they would not negotiate until the government was reopened, the all-important poll numbers to Trump saw a drop of more than eight percent in approval rating and more than a thirty percent difference in placing blame for the shutdown with Trump as compared to Democrats or even Republicans.
Poll numbers, not the welfare of the more than 800,000 federal workers and their families, is what drove this businessman president to cave to the condition for settlement of the shutdown placed by career and experienced politicians, Pelosi and Schumer.
Will he ever see his wall? No. During his White House Rose Garden remarks on the reopening of the government for a three week period to allow for the same negotiation that he could have had before any shutdown, Trump for the first time said he never said the wall has to be “from sea to shining sea” as he clearly and repeatedly said throughout his campaign and his presidency.
What will the bipartisan agreement look like that makes its way to his desk for signing? It will not have a 2,000 mile “big, beautiful wall.” It will have the border security enhancements that both Democrats and Republicans have been calling for and for which career officials along the border have continuously identified as needed such as increased screening technology including x-ray machines and, as importantly, increased trained staff to use the enhanced technology. It will also include barriers where the experts identify as needed and not along the entire border.
This deal could have been made long before the issue came to a head culminating with a government shutdown and the missed paychecks of government employees as well as the lost revenue of all of the establishments and businesses which relied on those employees for their own incomes and profits. Quite the businessman is he!
Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, and Trump’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, did accomplish one thing with this government shutdown, however.
They exemplified how out of touch the Trump administration is regarding the day-to-day challenges of most Americans as most Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.
Lara Trump infamously referred to the impact of the shutdown on the federal workforce as a small sacrifice now for a better future of America. One cannot help but wonder what sacrifice has she ever made for the common good.
Wilbur Ross may be even more disturbing when he questioned why the impacted federal employees needed to go to food banks to get a meal when they could easily just “take out a loan.”
I assume Ross, estimated to be worth more than $700 million, would gladly offer small loans to the federal workforce for, I also assume, usurious lending rates. Maybe Mr. Ross does not remember that with loans come fees and interest.
Regardless, requiring workers to take out loans to cover arbitrary withholding of wages is wrong at its core. Add to this the fact that a good portion of those without wages were still working and would not have time to work another job even if they could find one is particularly disturbing and wrong at its core.
One positive that may have come out of this Trump presidency episode is a greater appreciation on the part of the American public of the need for the federal workforce from TSA agents to air traffic controllers to the FBI agents who raided the home of Roger Stone, all of whom worked without pay to keep the American public safe.
One last observation: At the same Rose Garden speech by Trump, he continued his threat that after the three-week reopening he could still declare a national crisis and move appropriated money to build his wall.
NO HE WON’T.
Just like the lack of support for his wall by Republican Senators moved him to accept the deal that he could have had 35 days earlier, the same resistance by Republican Senators and House members will prevent him from establishing a precedent for recklessly misusing executive orders to declare non-existent emergencies paving the way for the next Democratic President to use the same tool to declare national emergencies regarding mass shootings, climate change and the like.
Even the sycophantic Republican Congressmen, including Mitch McConnell, will see this as a serious threat to maintaining the three equal branches of government.