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Government Shutdown - Trump Wall

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Posted on December 24 2018

 

Full disclosure my other half works for the Government, therefore it’s necessary for me to disclose that I clearly have an inherent bias. With that said, I will endeavor to put my bias aside and stick to the facts. The irony is when our Government shuts down, it ultimately cost, us the tax payers far more than if the Government remained open.

 

Obama Shutdown 2013

When Congress failed to pass a budget or a Continuing Resolution (CRs are emergency budgetary Stop-gaps, by NO means are CRs the appropriate mechanism to “fully”  Fund the Government) at midnight on October 1, 2013 thru October 17, 2013. It should not be lost on any of you that once again the Congressional Republicans and the mercurial Tea-Party aka Freedom Caucus refusal to compromise on a budget or a CR had us careening towards the third longest Government Shutdown in our Country’s history. 

 

From a historical point of view:

21-day 1995–96 shutdown, see UVA’s Miller-Center White Paper found here.

18-day shutdown in 1978, see Congressional Research Report, found here.

16-day Shutdown in 2013, see Obama Admin Archived Report, found here.

 

We estimate that the total cost of pay for furloughed Federal employees during the period of the shutdown is roughly $2.0 billion.2 Total compensation costs, including benefits, are about 30 percent larger, in the range of $2.5 billion.

 

Granted it is easy to start pointing fingers and apportion blame. In my opinion the Trump Administration coupled with once again the cancerous Tea-Party aka Freedom Caucus carry the burden of this particular Shutdown. This isn’t a bothsides argument, because when I hear pundits and lawmakers using Trump’s “bothsides” my immediate reaction is repeatedly slapping the taste out of their mouths (figuratively speaking, because violence is bad).

 

Trump 2018 THREE Shutdowns: 

Yes you ARE reading that correctly for the Calendar year of 2018 Donald J Trump has the “distinct” (note my sarcasm) honor of accomplishing something no other President of the United States has ever achieved before. Three separate Government Shutdown. Oh MAGAs you must be so proud of your Orange Hate Goblin’s history making incompetence.



1st Trump Shutdown January 22-24, 2018

On the evening of January 19, 2018 the US Senate failed  to pass legislation to fund Government. The catalyst for this disputes DACA and Appropriations for his stupid bleeping wall. The facts, not the twisted convoluted bullshit from Trump’s tweeter feed or amplification from Trump-State-Run-Media colloquially known as Fox “news” the Congressional Democrats offered $25B as in BILLION for his wall provided DACA recipients received a pathway to citizenship. And yet under the esteemed leadership of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan they both refused to give the bipartisan bill a vote or debate in either chamber. And right on time Trump uses twitter to “plead his case” to the American people, I found his whining unpersuasive. Granted if you’ve ever “negotiated” with a 3-year old you know what it’s like to negotiate with with Trump. To be clear yes I’m saying Trump acts like a 3-year old. He throws temper tantrums, packs his toys and stomps home. The man is utterly incapable of building a consensus much less negotiating in “good faith” by now I think it’s safe to say Trump thinks he’s a “king” and I wonder 

 

 

  

2nd Trump Shutdown February 9, 2018:

 To be fair this second Shutdown was <24 hours long, and yes I’m certain there are still fiscal hawks in our Government but once again Rand Paul made us collide into yet another Government shutdown. As the AP article notes the battle ground was Military Appropriations vs other austerity programs and yes of course immigration:

Beyond $300 billion worth of record increases for the military and domestic programs, the agreement adds $89 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, a politically charged increase in the government’s borrowing cap and a grab bag of health and tax provisions. There’s also $16 billion to renew a slew of expired tax breaks that Congress seems unable to kill.

 

3rd Trump shutdown, December 22, 2018

Let’s just take a moment and rewatch the December 11 2018 meeting of the (failed) reality TV “star” presidency. Clear as day to Leaders Schumer and Pelosi:

 

...Tell you what, I will Shutdown the Government, I am proud to Shutdown the Government for Border Security...I’ll take the blame, I’ll take the mantel...

 

 

By now it’s actually easy to lock on to Trump’s algorithm:

    • Step 1 - call the press pool in
    • Step 2 - lights, camera, action...smile we’re live broadcasting
    • Step 3 - pound his fat flabby chest and proclaim how strong
    • Step 4 - double back and pretend you’d take responsibility 

 

Since the Orange Hate Goblin has taken his “oath” (of which he’s failed to uphold much less “take care) he has tweeted 23 times about how we need a Government Shutdown and almost always it’s about his stupid ___ wall. This Trump Twitter Archive Link will take you to each of his 23 tweets.

 

And yes some of you may have already viewed this on twitter, but there are important facts that should be addressed:

 

 

That’s right in March of 2018 Trump signed the 2,200+ page Omnibus Bill. Consolidated Appro  Act, 2018, link to Bill found here. You can verify that of the 2,200+ pages not a single invocation of “border wall” or “concrete wall” or “big beautiful border wall”.  I now refer you to pages 673-675. Which reads in part:

 

SEC. 230. (a) Of the amount made available in this Act under ‘‘U.S. Customs and Border Protection—Procurement, Construction, and Improvements’’,$1,571,000,000 shall be available only as follows:

(1) $251,000,000 for approximately 14 miles of secondary fencing, all of which provides for crossbarrier visual situational awareness, along the southwest border in the San Diego Sector;

(2) $445,000,000 for 25 miles of primary pedestrian levee fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector

 (3) $196,000,000 for primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector;

(4) $445,000,000 for replacement of existing primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border; 

(5) $38,000,000 for border barrier planning and design; and 

(6) $196,000,000 for acquisition and deployment of border security technology.

(b) The amounts designated in subsection (a)(2) through (a)(4) shall only be available for operationally effective designs deployed as of the date of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, (Public Law 115–31), such as currently deployed steel bollard designs, that prioritize agent safety.  

(c) None of the funds provided in this or any other Act shall be obligated for construction of a border barrier in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. 

 

Again Trump knew there was ZERO Appropriations approved by Congress to for his stupid wall. Yet once again Trump goes on Twitter or looks directly into the camera and lies to the American people. It is difficult to understand why the Freedom Caucus and GOP Congressional members would allow the Government to be Shutdown because the Orange Hate Goblin threw yet another temper tantrum. This is the very definition of insanity. For nearly the past two years Congressional Republicans “think” they have a deal and once again Trump throws the “deal” into chaos. All while his Russian Trolls and MAGA dimwits go to social media and attempt to sell this rancid bullshit snake oil. It’s beyomd predictable, it’s actually somewhat amusing because the hypocrisy is NOT lost on me and it for damn sure should not be lost on you.

 

 

Government Accountability Office June 2018

 

Keep in mind many of us already knew this because earlier this year the Government Accountability Office  (GAO) published a scathing report specifically pointing out that the Trump Administration and Sec Nielsen had failed to obtain the necessary and arguably critical information both in development and implementation. Notwithstanding the Trump Administration failure to obtain critical cost information, well its expected but certainly surprising. Most notably the one pillar of Trump’s Disinformation Campaign that “dirty, infestation, breeding” immigrants are pouring in to our Country...the GAO and DHS proffered data that shows, once again Trump lied.

 

The GOA report noted (based on data given to the, by DHS) “during fiscal year 2017, Customs Border Control Agents apprehended 304,000 illegal entrants, a decrease from 409,000 in fiscal year 2016. Essentially a 26% REDUCTION in illegal immigrants apprehended”. The GAO report goes on to conclude: ..”funding for barrier planning and design, but limited use of funds for primary barrier construction to previously deployed fencing designs” in simpler terms since the Trump Administration had yet to approve the $20M as in million prototype designs for his big, beautiful wall, Trump pivoted to “artisanal steel slats”. Not to state the obvious but situational awareness would require our CPB agent’s to see through any type of barrier to see “the otherside” hence the scam that is Trump’s wall is about as believable as “Mexico will pay for it”. As the FOIA’s documents posted below “Mexico would be gravely offended” so then Trump,pulls his incredibly predictable switch and bait, Mexico will pay for it via NAFTA 2.0.

  

 

In March 2018, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, provided CBP $1.34 billion to build or replace primary and secondary fencing in the Rio Grande Valley and San Diego sectors, and other southwest border locations.

GAO was asked to review DHS’s efforts to deploy barriers along the southwest border.This report examines

(1) how CBP evaluated potential designs for barriers,

I2) DHS’s process for identifying and assessing locations for future deployments of barriers, and

(3) how DHS is managing the acquisition of the Border Wall System Program, among other things.

 

Like many of you, when Trump tweeted the comical rendering of his newly Trump branded “artisanal steel slats” I wonder what happened, as in why would Trump pivot to his “big beautiful concrete wall” to see through steel slats. Well I may have an actual answer for you, 

 

 

The answer can be found on pages 18-22 which is odd because the facts show that the Trump administration asked for $1.6B as in billion for Fiscal Year 2019 (for the record FY 2019 started in October 2018) and what Trump is now trying to do is deviate from the Appropriations process.

 

When he didn’t get his way or when Ann Coulter and/or Rush Limbaugh started mean tweeting Trump he threw a temper tantrum and shut the Government down because that pernicious little brat didn’t get his way millions of families are now wondering when they will get paid. In the most simple terms possible this shutdown is 100% on Trump. Why? The March 2018 Omnibus Bill had earmarked Appropriations for “border security”, which is interesting that as of late Trump has started using that language. The GAO report details the “border security/wall” plan, its essentially a hybrid plan including sctructers like fencing, use of technology and federal law enforcement. As explained in the greater detail via the GAO report”

 

CBP does not plan to use these designs for primary barriers to be constructed with fiscal year 2018 funds, as the appropriations act required that amounts for construction of new and replacement primary pedestrian fencing be used only for operationally effective designs deployed as of May 5, 2017, such as steel bollard fencing.

 

CBP uses the term “wall system” in reference to planned combinations of tactical infrastructure, including primary and secondary barriers separated by an enforcement zone, lighting and surveillance technology for the barriers and enforcement zone, access roads, and interfaces for current or future technologies to support detection capabilities.

 

Below are two FOIA files that American Oversight obtained via numerous FOIA request. Which in part explains the diplomatic mess that Trump’s stupid wall brings to our neighbors. It is really something to behold, and oddly proves this is merely a public Trump performance.

 

 

The mendacity of Donald Trump and his utterly incompetent Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen, frankly it’s nothing like we’ve ever seen  before. They both lie on a pathological level. Frankly Nielsen is one of the worst public servants in recent memory. She is a bitter vapid vacuous time suck. Her performance this past week show how bitchy she is, she could NOT cite the number of illegal immigrants that died in her custody. WTF is that?

Not to belabor the point but shortly after Thanksgiving i casually mentioned here we go again. Granted I wanted to be wrong because my family is one of the millions of families that this shutdown directly impacts. 

 

 

🎅 Ho-Ho-Ho Merry Christmas 🎅

I should note that there’s infantilism chance that the Senate vis-à-vis a pro forma session. Which enables a unanimous consent or voice vote. The United States Senate defines a Pro Forma Session: “From the Latin, meaning “as a matter of form,” a pro forma session is a brief meeting of the Senate, often only a few minutes in duration.” You can read more here

As I explained above, the point of contention is Trump’s stupid ____ wall. Congress made Appropriations for Fiscal Years 2017, 2018 and 2019. What Trump does, every.damn.time just when the Republicans (who by the way contrail both Chambers of Congress until January 3, 2019) he throws a fit. And sends the Congress and arguably the Country into a tallspin. The reality is that this current shutdown is Trump’s making. The Congressional leaders had an agreement and many left DC on Wednesday into Thursday because that’s how confident they felt a CR would be passed.

What happened next is Trump started feeling the pressure by the Freedom Caucus and Alt Right Pundits. Keep in mind if you’ve paid any attention to the last 23 months, you’d clearly understand that Trump is all about Trump. His image. His public persona. There’s literally very little evidence to suggest he’s dictating policies for the betterment of ALL Americans. Naturally this isn’t surprising given Trump acts like a malignant narcissistic douche canoe. Me. Me. Me. Myself Me. I that’s all Trump thinks about.

If Trump had “the best” of the best policy advisors who have a basic, and I mean like third grade level of the legislative process then we, the American people would not be in a THIRD Government Shutdown in <11 months. And perhaps I’m over simlying this but at the end of the day the facts show that Trump is a terrible negotiator and an equally mendacious “leader”.

 

Direct Impact:

Just from a Public Relations standpoint the Optics on Trump’s Christmas Shutdown look terrible. When you couple the fact that the Republicans control both chambers of Congress and purportedly control the White House (I’d argue that Putin controls Trump) there’s no way out. You add in Trump’s December 11, 2018 chest pounding with Chuck and Nancy, while Bubbles (the VP) ckosed his eye in prayer, it’s inconceivable that Trump would have the audacity and temerity to blame the Democrats. Until January 3, 2019 the Democrats do not have any power. And like the Emotional Terrorist that Donald Trump is, he then goes back on his word and feebly tries to blame the Democrats. Let’s be blunt Trump is a one trick pony, we’ve seen this dance before.

Moreover Trump looks and acts like a winey little word that rhymes with witch. Like that kid (you know exactly what kid I’m talking about) in gym class who never gets picked in dodgeball. So Trump sits on the bench with his arms cross and foments about “how unfair this is...it’s everyone else’s problem...blah blah blah” and yes of course he goes on twitter to Plead his case to the Court of Public Opinion.

The miscalculation here is; 1) roughly 22-29% of Americans known as “Trump’s Base) will be like..”Bro you tell them, you got this we got your back...the deep state is out to get you” and 2) Trump fails to see he is unbelievable underwater with two core demographic groups, Independents and College Educated Suburban Moms, many of whom have become disenfranchised by Trump’s stunning detachment from actual reality not the reality Trump creates, and 3) Trump drapes himself in our Country’s flag, consistently using our  Military and our Veterans as political pawns in his game of “look at me, I’m the Captain now” if recent polling is accurate the fact is Trump’s support by this important subset of the electorate is in fact winding down. Why? Economic instability, meaning our Military and Veterans depend on their paychecks. During Government Shutdowns “exempt personnel” must work without pay. Granted these essential employees will receive retroactive pay once the Government reopens. But that offers little assurance to Government Employees who love paycheck to paycheck. Oh you think I’m being dramatic? According to the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) December 22, 2018;

”Special Guidance Report

 

  •  Lapse-affected employees may not receive any pay for work (i.e., orderly shutdown activities or other excepted work) performed during the lapse until after the lapse has ended.

 

  • No pay may be provided for excepted work during the December 23-January 5 pay period until the lapse in appropriations has ended.

 

Specifically Federal Employees who have “use it or lose it” earned leave are also impacted because based on the OPM & OMB the Government (agency dependent) are not required to pay those employees for the hours they were previously approved to take during the Holidays. That is a significant and direct financial impact to our public servants. The reality is nearly ALL Government Shutdown cost the taxpayers a lot more, than if the Government remained open. Once again this is Trump acting like an Emotional Terrorist at the actual peril of our Country’s safety. During holidays our National Security sector is already on high alert. Yet not surprisingly Trump throws caution, pragmatism and National Security to the wind because Ann & Rush mean tweeted him. Again the OMB December 22, 2018 Guidance (found here) spells out who gets paid and how. Not to belabor the issue this doesn’t offer any assurances to the hundreds of thousands of employees who live paycheck to paycheck.

 

Furloughed employees may not, however, perform any non-excepted agency work prior to conducting orderly shutdown. For example, if an employee was scheduled to return to work on Thursday, December 27, an agency could require the employee to report to duty to perform any necessary orderly shutdown activities on that day.

agency will be obligated to provide pay at an overtime rate for those hours after the lapse has ended will depend on whether Congress, in conjunction with the legislation restoring appropriations, provides retroactive pay for hours during which employees were furloughed.

 

It should be pointed out that historically speaking, 100% of the time in past Government Shutdown Congress has approved appropriations to “retroactively” pay Federal Employees but I don’t see how that brings any assistance to those who don’t have an money set aside for emergency situations. For those unaware of the various agency Contingency Plans, I direct you to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) September 2015 Shutdown Guidance. Those that argue this is outdated (2015) you do understand that if a superseding Guidance hasn’t been issued then the last guidance stands, right?

 

You can also review this OPM landing page, is a very good resource to answer many questions.

 

But the notion that Democrats alone are to blame of Trump’s Shutdown is a bloody joke. Trump demanded $5B as in Billions for his dumb wall and when he realized that Congress had little appetite to give him billions more when he’s only spent 1% of the $1.6B already appropriated why on earth would he think Congress would hand him more money? Predictablely Trump supporters are all in on his stupid wall even though Mexico is never ever going to pay for the wall. My closing thought on this Trump Shutdown, he beats his chest, while acting like he’s being “tough” the actual reality is Trump’s wall does nothing to address the vast majority of illegal immigrants because >600,000 of these undocumented immigrants came to America on a freaking airplane and over stayed their Visas. Facts matter as does who’s responsible for a THIRD SHUTDOWN in <11 months.

 

 

 -Spicy Out.

 

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