It is the same old script. The Republicans give out tax cuts like candy that mostly benefit the wealthy and then when the budget deficit increases, they express surprise at this development and claim that salary and services for everyone else must be cut in the name of fiscal discipline because there is no other solution. I’ve lost count of how many times this stunt has been pulled and am amazed that people haven’t revolted in anger at being treated as if they were too stupid to know what is going on. Donald Trump has followed the pattern and used that same reasoning to cancel salary increases for nearly 2 million federal workers.
With hundreds of thousands of federal employees currently furloughed or working without pay due to the ongoing government shutdown, President Donald Trump delivered another blow to struggling workers on Friday by signing an executive orderthat will freeze the pay of around two million public employees in 2019.
Trump’s executive order—which largely flew under the radar of national news coverage—makes official his announcement earlier this year that he would cancel a scheduled 2.1 percent pay raise for 1.8 million non-military federal workers.
As justification for the widely denounced move, Trump cited the need to “put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course.”
The president’s sudden concern for the budget deficit came just months after he signed into law $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, which have disproportionately flowed to wealthy Americans and large corporations.
“President Trump pushed through a tax scam that gave unprecedented handouts to billionaires and corporations—but believes it’s too expensive to pay hardworking federal workers a reasonable wage,” wrote Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) following Trump’s August announcement.
To add insult to injury, the 800,000 federal workers who are not being paid right now are being advised to barter services with their creditors, such as to doing painting and carpentry chores for their landlords, if they are experiencing a cash flow problem. The government even provided sample letters that could be given to creditors and mortgage companies for bartering purposes. This did not go down well.
On CNN Saturday morning, Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, called the suggestion about trading services for rent payments “laughable” and “unfortunate.”
“I think it’s disgusting, candidly,” Reardon said on “New Day.” He added, “It’s wrong to treat human beings this way.”
But while federal workers are usually given back pay when the government reopens, that is not the case for the many contract workers who have also been affected.
As many as 2,000 subcontractors in federal buildings including janitors, security guards, and cafeteria servers are not only experiencing a sharp break in their work schedules, they also won’t be compensated for this pause, according to 32BJ SEIU, a labor union that represents many building service workers caught up in this shutdown.
Government employees typically receive back pay after the shutdown is over, but contractors are paid directly by companies that can’t bill the government for services when it’s shut down. Because these companies won’t get paid, they, in turn, aren’t able to pay their workers.
As usual, Trump has resorted to lying by invoking his favorite tactic, quoting anonymous people whom he says support his moves.
While federal employees and contractors are the ones most likely to feel the impact of a shutdown, Trump has claimed that they support his effort to close down the government over the border wall.
“Many of those workers have said to me and communicated, ‘stay out until you get the funding for the wall,’” he said on Tuesday. “These federal workers want the wall.”
Not so, says groups including 32BJ SEIU, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, and the American Federation for Government Employees, all of which are unions representing government employees or contractors.
“The president falsely claims that ‘many’ federal workers support the shutdown and have told him to ‘stay out,’” says IFPTE President Paul Shearon in a statement. “We have not heard from a single member who supports the president’s inaction. Most view this as an act of ineptitude.”
But not to worry! Trump and the members of Congress continue to get paid so everything’s fine!