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Trump’s shutdown forced 1 in 4 federal workers to turn to food banks

Trump’s shutdown stunt deprived people of paychecks for 5 weeks, and the effects were devastating.

By Dan Desai Martin - February 13, 2019
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Donald Trump

The 35-day Trump shutdown caused enormous hardship for federal workers across the country, and a new survey shows just how difficult it was for many people to cope.

Nearly half of federal workers who were affected by the shutdown fell behind on one or more of their bills, and a majority were forced to spend all or most of their emergency savings, according to a survey by Prudential.

More than 1 in 4 surveyed missed a mortgage or rent payment, and 42 percent took on new debt to help make it through the 5-week shutdown.

And a quarter of federal workers surveyed said they visited a food bank in order to feed themselves and their families.

The survey of 350 federal workers impacted by the shutdown, first reported on Tuesday by USA Today, lays bare the hardship Trump forced hundreds of thousands of people to endure for the sake of his obsession with a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

During the shutdown, federal workers were denied two paychecks because Trump refused to reopen the government unless he received $5.7 billion for a border wall. The Democratic-led House repeatedly passed legislation to fund the government, and thereby pay federal workers — only to be rebuffed by Trump and his Republican accomplices in the Senate.

During the shutdown, Trump’s advisers and allies made painfully out of touch remarks that showed just how little they understood or cared about the pain they caused.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a multi-millionaire, said he simply could not understand why people would need to go to food pantries after going more than a month without being paid. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, called the devastating lack of paychecks a mere “glitch.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended Trump’s decision to hurt federal workers as “reasonable.”

While Republicans were holding paychecks hostage, almost a quarter of federal workers were forced to cut back on health and medical expenses for themselves or their families. Even after Trump caved and reopened the government — with no funding for the border wall — thousands of federal workers still did not receive their back pay on time.

And about a million people who work as federal contractors, like the janitors and cafeteria workers who work in federal buildings, may never get paid at all for the 5 weeks they weren’t allowed to do their jobs.

Despite all the pain and hardship he caused, Trump is still contemplating shutting down the government again, as the temporary funding he agreed to expires on Feb. 15. Congressional negotiators have agreed on a funding package, and GOP leaders are desperately begging Trump to accept it and give up on his demand for wall funding.

If Trump opts to throw another tantrum instead, it will throw federal workers’ lives into even more chaos.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 


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