Editorial

EDITORIAL: Are Americans Being Held Hostage for a Wall?

As the partial government shutdown threatens to become longest in U.S. history, 19 days and growing, President Donald Trump continues to hold fast to his rhetoric and insistence that the country needs a wall — for national security, to keep out criminals, the list goes on.

But since Dec. 22 when the shutdown first began, more citizens are finding themselves struggling to make ends meet, becoming increasingly anxious about the future and how long their savings, if they have any at all, will last and perhaps most important, how they’ll pay their rent and put food on their table.

For those living in public housing, evictions appear to be unlikely, for now, but landlords say they’re already starting to reduce maintenance or scheduled improvements on their buildings. The renewal of HUD contracts has been put on hold just like the approval of mortgages for homebuyers who use USDA-backed programs which provide lower interest rates and allow buyers to forgo down payment requirements.

And if you plan to fly, you should know that concerns about inadequate security and longer lines are beginning to mount — as are reports of callouts by TSA agents — something that TSA officials continue to downplay.

Visitors can still get into national parks, but they’ll be met by overflowing trash cans, dirty bathrooms and without the benefit of park rangers for guidance and information. Forget about making plans on how you’ll spend that check from Uncle Sam. The IRS, already backlogged, will probably be banned from providing refunds anytime soon, if policies during this shutdown follow those in the past.

More troubling, the USDA says it will run out of funds to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) if the shutdown continues into February, impacting an estimated 38 million Americans. Some federal employees have already been sent home, indefinitely — others are about to collect their final payroll check unless Trump and Congress can come to some kind of agreement.

Here in the District, business owners are seeing fewer customers enter their doors as a considerable percentage of their patrons, federal employees and contractors, now face a third week without pay and cannot afford to splurge at their favorite restaurants or other regularly-frequented hotspots. Tourism in D.C. has been negatively impacted as well after this week’s closing of the Smithsonian museums.

Even if you believe that this shutdown won’t change your life in any significant way, thus leaving you indifferent to the plight of federal workers or those in the military, consider that the financial services company Standard & Poor’s estimates that the current shutdown will cost the U.S. economy $1.2 billion a week. Just what our country needs given the whopping national debt that shows no signs of being reduced.

Something’s fishy about the whole thing, especially the facts, figures and reasons touted by the Trump administration day after day which many economists and other experts refute, saying the numbers simply don’t add up.

But have no fear Americans. Our president, one who has never had to worry about credit cards that are over the limit or savings and checking accounts that have negative balances, tells us to hang in there, be patient and believe that he’s holding to his guns for our benefit — for our best interests. Believe it or not. Well, Mr. President, we’re not buying it. Is securing $5.6 billion for a so-called wall so important to America’s safety that holding ordinary people hostage until Congress yields to his whims, something that can honestly be justified by Mr. Trump? Whatever happened to compromise? Finally, what ever happened to elected officials telling citizens not what they think we want to hear but rather the truth?

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