Federal workers brace for long shutdown

A quarter of the federal government will likely begin the new year out of work or working without pay due to a government shutdown.

Posted: Dec 31, 2018 2:30 AM
Updated: Dec 31, 2018 2:30 AM

And so it continues. With no end in sight to the government shutdown, President Donald Trump, who rightly said a government shutdown should be blamed on the White House, now seems unwilling to accept responsibility.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of innocent government workers -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- are being forced to go without the paychecks they need to feed, house and clothe their families. (These are government workers who, by the way, Trump decided will not receive any pay raise in 2019.) And millions of citizens nationwide are being forced to go without some of the government services on which they may depend.

Reacting to Congress' resistance to force US taxpayers -- rather than Mexico -- to fund his border wall, Trump even threatened to shut down the southern border on Friday night. No one knows what that means exactly, but his impetuous response reveals a much bigger issue at play here: In whose interests is our President acting?

It increasingly appears he is acting in his own, putting America and Americans second.

Let's take a look at a few recent examples of this "Trump first" approach at play:

Withdrawal of US troops from Syria

No one likes the idea of putting US troops in harm's way, especially in the midst of what seems like an unwinnable war thousands of miles away. That said, our armed forces are in Syria for a good reason: to eradicate an avowed enemy that seeks to destroy us -- ISIS.

Trump claimed our mission in Syria was done and it was time to withdraw our forces. Most experts disagreed. While outgoing Secretary of Defense James Mattis cautioned the President against such a hasty decision, it did not seem to matter.

Instead, Trump made a unilateral choice, which shocked our political and military establishment, as well as our allies abroad -- but delighted our chief international adversary, Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a press conference, Putin said, "If the decision to withdraw was made, then it is a correct one."

Though Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally who opposes withdrawal, said Sunday, "We're in a pause situation" on Syria withdrawal, the President has not formally announced a change to his drawdown plans.

Given that the threat of ISIS still remains, it appears Trump's decision is more motivated by a desire to fulfill a campaign promise than to ensure the safety of the American people at large. Also, if the United States leaves, ISIS could well be able to reactivate with few, if any, interruptions from enemy forces, and that certainly will not be in America's national security interests.

Intentionally undermining pillars of democracy

Trump's incessant criticisms of the press and our system of justice are so frequent that some may be getting numb to their poisonous effects. But a democracy cannot exist without these two pillars.

Trump does not seem to care. He has called the free press "the enemy of the people," has suggested on Twitter the possibility of an official government network to rival the media, and has made the Federal Bureau of Investigation a repeated target of his ire.

A muzzled press and a corrupt justice system are hallmarks of authoritarian regimes. That Trump seeks to intimidate and corrode public confidence in these pillars of democracy is -- to use one of his favorite words -- a disgrace.

But Donald Trump knows both institutions are devoted to pursuing the truth about him, his businesses and his presidential campaign. That seems to scare him, so his attacks are unlikely to let up any time soon. His personal interests are best served by a lack of public confidence in the press and in the justice system. The heck with what is best for the country.

Endangering the smooth working of free markets

Add Wall Street to the list of institutions Trump appears to no longer respect. In his sights is the very essence of our economic system: the stock market. He is making it virtually impossible for anyone to know in what to reliably invest. Trump is smart enough to realize what he says matters to the markets, yet he insists on saying one thing on Monday, and another -- sometimes the opposite -- on Tuesday.

Like corporate CEOs who seek consistent and sustainable earnings growth to keep stock prices on an upward trend, so, too, should the President's comments be consistent and sustainable. Lately, at least, Trump's have been neither. And he has taken the highly unusual step of publicly criticizing his hand-picked chairman of the independent Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, whom he appointed just last year -- saying he was "not even a little bit happy" with him. In fact, according to CNN sources, Trump has even asked about the legality of firing Powell, which only adds to instability and uncertainty in the marketplace. Not surprisingly, Trump's criticism of Powell has taken a toll on markets, which have seen extreme highs and lows over the last month for a variety of reasons.

Were Trump interested in stabilizing and strengthening the US economy, rather than merely bullying the independent Fed chairman, Trump would choose his words more carefully.

No one should be surprised at Trump putting himself first. After all, he campaigned on being a disruptor, and clearly much of the country welcomed that approach. He and his supporters seem to relish his eschewing of "presidential norms."

But this pattern of Trump putting his interests before the country's could not be more at odds with what a president is supposed to do.

Indeed, the one norm to which every president must adhere is putting the American people first. Regardless of his or her personal style, the president of the United States must at all times act in a way that protects the well-being of our citizens and the strength of our republic. That means supporting -- not seeking to destroy -- what makes our country great, even if doing so is at his own expense.

Recent actions by Trump provide legitimate reason to question if, whenever the government comes back to full strength, that will be his priority. On that there can be no compromise. Ever. Our survival depends on it.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 128152

Reported Deaths: 2354
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin33024980
Ramsey13609355
Dakota9467136
Anoka8324150
Stearns554641
Washington539968
Scott326534
Olmsted315930
St. Louis279765
Wright233214
Nobles219516
Clay215343
Blue Earth20037
Carver17247
Kandiyohi16395
Sherburne160621
Rice15929
Mower149915
Winona122518
Crow Wing94721
Lyon9416
Chisago9202
Waseca9199
Benton8827
Beltrami8397
Otter Tail7896
Todd7525
Steele7342
Nicollet70017
Itasca69617
Morrison6578
Freeborn6494
Douglas6323
Martin60216
Le Sueur5985
McLeod5764
Watonwan5724
Polk5574
Goodhue54211
Becker5193
Pine5190
Isanti5115
Chippewa4153
Carlton4031
Dodge3790
Mille Lacs37613
Hubbard3462
Cass3445
Wabasha3430
Pipestone33616
Meeker3183
Brown3113
Rock3113
Yellow Medicine2715
Cottonwood2650
Unassigned26553
Murray2643
Redwood26011
Fillmore2450
Sibley2423
Renville23711
Faribault2210
Roseau2160
Wadena2082
Jackson2041
Kanabec19410
Swift1931
Houston1861
Stevens1741
Lincoln1720
Pennington1711
Koochiching1644
Aitkin1592
Pope1520
Big Stone1310
Lac qui Parle1303
Wilkin1274
Lake1110
Norman1050
Mahnomen1041
Marshall971
Grant924
Clearwater880
Red Lake662
Traverse540
Lake of the Woods431
Kittson370
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111117

Reported Deaths: 1587
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18419283
Woodbury697994
Johnson571730
Black Hawk535098
Linn5245129
Dubuque489654
Scott421037
Story391018
Dallas336944
Pottawattamie309144
Sioux234314
Buena Vista222512
Marshall195936
Webster178914
Plymouth159426
Wapello149462
Clinton140926
Muscatine139358
Crawford133712
Des Moines13059
Cerro Gordo130423
Warren11856
Carroll107212
Jasper105534
Henry10075
Marion95710
Tama91837
Lee90710
Delaware72912
Dickinson7117
Wright7071
Boone6969
Mahaska65924
Bremer6389
Washington62711
Harrison6238
Jackson5583
Benton5381
Lyon5287
Louisa50715
Clay5044
Hamilton4613
Winnebago45818
Winneshiek4559
Hardin4495
Kossuth4460
Poweshiek44111
Floyd42411
Jones4223
Cedar4205
Buchanan4194
Emmet41517
Iowa3948
Cherokee3832
Franklin37818
Sac3774
Guthrie37615
Clayton3753
Page3740
Shelby3601
Mills3551
Butler3542
Fayette3543
Cass3512
Madison3512
Allamakee3438
Chickasaw3381
Clarke3283
Humboldt3083
Hancock2984
Palo Alto2982
Grundy2895
Calhoun2854
Howard2619
Osceola2610
Monroe25111
Mitchell2380
Monona2361
Taylor2302
Union2194
Appanoose2173
Pocahontas2172
Jefferson2121
Lucas1976
Fremont1881
Ida1842
Greene1820
Van Buren1662
Davis1634
Montgomery1616
Adair1481
Keokuk1481
Decatur1430
Audubon1381
Worth1340
Wayne1133
Ringgold832
Adams700
Unassigned140
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