As I write this we approach the 26th day of the partial government shutdown. We’ve had shutdowns before but this is our longest.
This shutdown does not affect all federal employees and is called a “partial shutdown.” But that’s little comfort to those are not being paid. And those who are not being paid are divided into two groups: essential and non-essential.
The non-essential federal employees cannot work and are not being paid. Essential employees must work and are not being paid. So what’s the difference? Good question.
I believe that all federal employees are essential because they serve all of us. In the past few days I’ve suggested that we abandon essential and non-essential and instead use the words safety related and non safety related. This made some sense because employees guard our safety (e.g. the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Transportation Security Administration) and we can’t function without them. But other agencies provide essential services that don’t endanger our safety.
But here’s where it get complicated for our President: as the shutdown continues we’re finding that his base may suffer from his unwillingness to care about the work that our federal employees do. As a candidate he promised to improve the lives of American farmers and by overwhelming numbers they voted for him. But his protectionist policies make their lives more difficult because other nations reduce how much they purchase from us. We can see soybean farmers as an example.
In response to this Mr. Trump allocated subsidies to soybean farmers. Some of them grumbled that they chose farming to grow crops, not to cash checks but I haven’t heard of anyone who refused to cash the checks.
But the government shutdown has meant that farmers aren’t getting their checks.
Today we received word that 2500 federal employees were ordered back to work to ensure these farmers get their checks.
In other words, 2500 federal employees who haven’t been paid since the government shut down are now ordered back to work without pay so that the President can ensure that the minority of Americans who voted for him will continue to receive checks for not farming.
It’s hard to imagine that anything will make him care for the people who work for him and stop pandering to his base.