Strap in America, it looks like the Trump administration thinks the shutdown might well last at least another six weeks.
On Wednesday, Trump and Nancy Pelosi escalated their feud over the State of the Union address which the President is not welcome to deliver on Capitol Hill as long as the government remains shuttered.
“We’ll do something in the alternative” Trump said, before hilariously claiming that the reason Pelosi is blocking his speech is “because she doesn’t want to hear the truth.”
That is all kinds of ironic coming from a president who lies each and every time he opens his mouth and whose entire mythology is built on one giant lie. Indeed, the defining feature of Trump’s America is a systematic relegation of the truth and the subjugation of facts to spin.
In any event, here’s Trump’s letter to Pelosi:
And here is the Speaker’s rejoinder, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of reveling in it:
As documented here at length on Wednesday morning, the Senate will vote on competing bills to end the shutdown on Thursday, but it’s an exercise in futility – or at least it certainly seems that way. Trump today implored American’s to “pray” for his wall and rolled out what he’s calling a “new theme” for the GOP: “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!”
Well, on Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Post reported that Mick Mulvaney is now “pressing” agency leaders to conjure up a list of critical programs that would be “jeopardized” if the shutdown lasts into March or even April.
Mulvaney, the Post says, has demanded the list be delivered by the end of this week. To wit:
It’s the firmest evidence to date that the White House is preparing for a lengthy funding lapse that could have snowballing consequences for the economy and government services.
The request is the first known inquiry from a top White House official seeking information about the spreading impact of the shutdown, which has entered its fifth week and is the longest in U.S. history.
So far, top White House officials have been particularly focused on lengthening wait times at airport security, but not the sprawling interruption of programs elsewhere in the government.
Yes, “so far.” But now, it looks as though Trump is prepared to risk it all in a high stakes bid to make good on a campaign promise which, you’re reminded, was never even meant to be taken literally in the first place. Recall this from a January 5 piece in The New York Times:
Before it became the chief sticking point in a government shutdown drama that threatens to consume his presidency at a critical moment, President Trump’s promise to build a wall on the southwestern border was a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate.
That’s how bad this is. The fate of the US government now hinges on a mnemonic device devised to keep a moron from losing track of his own plot.
Earlier Wednesday, Kevin Hassett told CNN it’s possible the shutdown could end up causing economic growth to flatline for the US in the first quarter. That echoes similar assessments from analysts and the business community.
It’s hard to believe Trump would be willing to push the envelope this far. Needless to say, a shutdown that lasts until March or April will inflict untold harm on the economy and it will take a spin job for the ages to convince the public he’s not at fault.
Additionally, the consequences for market sentiment are impossible to quantify upfront, but as we’ve tried to make clear on any number of occasions, the longer this goes on, the more questions it raises about the debt ceiling.
As for the 800,000 furloughed workers who are set to miss a second paycheck this week, we just hope they all appreciate the extent to which this has absolutely nothing to do with “national security” and everything to do with one man’s ego.