Trump is having problems getting it up (his wall, that is)

Tuesday 29th January 2019 | Jake

In late January the longest ever shutdown of the United States government finally ended. It lasted just over a month and achieved nothing but suffering for roughly 800,000 employees of the federal government.

The shutdown came about after Donald Trump demanded funding for his border wall which was swiftly rejected by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Trump fancifully demanded upwards of $5bn in funding for his wall, and subsequently threw a tantrum when he couldn’t get what he wanted.

In true Trumpian fashion, Trump repeatedly said he was entirely culpable for any impending shutdown, only to blame it on Democrats when the shutdown actually happened. Republicans also blamed Democrats for the shutdown, depite innumerable examples of Trump welcoming the blame on himself.

Away from the circus that is the White House, however, there were very real consequences to Trump’s vanity project gone awry. About 800,000 federal employees went unpaid for over a month. Roughly 380,000 had to stop working altogether for the month, whilst the rest worked without pay checks.

For thousands of people living check to check this meant debts piling up and damage to credit ratings. These problems aren’t solved by back pay and a return to regular payroll. National parks have also suffered tremendously. About 80% of people employed by the National Parks Service were forced to halt work immediately once the shutdown had begun. At such an early stage it is unsure how serious the damage to parks left unattended will be, although Joshua Tree national park in California suffered damage that could take “200 to 300 years” to repair, according to the park’s former superintendent, Curt Sauer.

In the end the shutdown ended after the master dealmaker Trump agreed to a deal he promised he never would, with his wall plan left unfunded. True to form Trump vehemently denied caving, and threatened another shutdown should funding not arrive soon. As (relatively) normal sevice resumes the 800,000 workers cannot get too comfortable. Trump may lie habitually and pathologically, but he is intent on building the wall, and the livelihoods of 800,000 people won’t cross his mind as he seeks funding for it.