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Trump government shutdown

President Donald Trump leads a roundtable discussion on border security with local leaders Friday in the Cabinet Room of the White House. PHOTO BY JACQUELYN MARTIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

The biggest lie ever told in American politics is the claim that Donald Trump cares about working people.

He never has. He never will.

As a bankruptcy-prone business mogul, Trump always financed his lavish lifestyle at the expense of the workers and contractors he screwed over. Now he is doing the same thing as president. That was made abundantly clear last Friday, when the government shutdown that Trump engineered denied 800,000 federal employees their paychecks.

“Cheating, scamming, and ripping off workers is a Donald Trump tradition that goes back decades. Federal workers are just Trump’s latest victims,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman as the deadline for paying the workers passed. “For decades, Trump repeatedly didn’t pay those who worked for him, and now that he’s in the White House, little has changed. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers and employees of federal contractors are suffering the same fate because of the Trump shutdown.”

Paul Shearon, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, described the shutdown as “completely unnecessary.” And, of course, he was right. “The real problem is that President Trump has shut himself down and he’s refusing to do his job as chief executive,” explained Shearon, whose union represents judges in U.S. immigration courts, scientists, engineers and technical workers at NASA, and highly skilled workers at the EPA and NOAA.

The human cost has been severe for federal workers who, as American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. has noted, have take-home pay averaging about $500 a week and in many cases “struggle to make ends meet even without a missed paycheck.”

Yet Trump has no qualms about “holding employees’ paychecks hostage over demands for a border wall,” Weissman said.

Trump actually claimed that unpaid federal workers could just “make adjustments.” The president also announced that he “can relate” to the difficult circumstance he has imposed upon the workers.

That kind of talk, Weissman said Friday, was “pretty rich coming from a six-time bankrupt real estate mogul who inherited his daddy’s fortune. Working families who are living paycheck to paycheck and can no longer afford to pay for rent, groceries and medical bills because of Trump’s reckless shutdown have every right to be furious at the president’s oblivious and patronizing remarks.”

Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that “the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.”

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That was a lie.

As Weissman said, Trump as president has “betrayed workers at every turn.”

“From rolling back health, safety and wage protections to misleading coal miners to tax giveaways for billionaires and big corporations that left most Americans with a pittance,” he explained, “it should be obvious by now that Trump holds working people beneath contempt."

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. jnichols@madison.com and @NicholsUprising. 

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