February 2019 Government Shutdown

February 2019 Government Shutdown

Government Shutdown: Cruel for All and Lethal for Many

The Putin directed cabal of Donald Trump, his abject Republican disciples (along with two “yes men,” one Independent and one Libertarian), plus the expansive right wing media have engineered the destruction of our federal government’s functioning under the façade of #45’s demand to “build the wall.” The Putin/Trump regime has captured the loyalties of roughly 36% of the (mostly white) American electorate. Both racist and religious hatreds have enabled Donald Trump to shut down the functioning of vast areas of our national government.

Over 800,000 government workers and their families have already missed an entire two-week paycheck. For many middle class workers, that is the rent or mortgage paycheck, and many can be at risk of becoming homeless in another month or two if our government does not resume operation. Even worse, now some workers are being forced to return to work WITHOUT BEING PAID.

Tragically, most Trump supporters do not feel empathy for their fellow Americans because “Government workers” have been portrayed as” lazy and shiftless” since the era of President Reagan. The “lazy and shiftless” fits with many flyover country Americans seeing the federal government as located only in the District of Columbia, and populated largely by citizens of color.

Government workers are showing up at food banks for the first time in their lives. And we must also assume that many of our neighbors will become seriously ill and some may die because they are not able to pay for doctor visits, medications, oxygen, physical therapy, etc. Some of our neighbors with serious chronic diseases will likely die prematurely because their medical care will be unaffordable and families will be destroyed.

In addition, about 200 fellow Americans may lose their final chance at life sparing cancer clinical trials provided at the NIH (National Institutes of Health). The clinical trials are on hold until the shutdown ends. Meanwhile, their no longer treatable cancers continue to spread. Surely this shutdown is “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” for all Americans.

–Karen Pataky, Chair, Health Policy Task Force

(Note: The shutdown may have ended by the time of this publication. That will not end the damages it has done, including those discussed in Pataky’s commentary. — Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Chair, Committee on Public Policy and Political Action)