In February 2016, Donald Trump the candidate had no idea he was required by law to put a transition team in place to initiate preparations to run the federal government. Months later, after he had clinched the nomination, he still didn’t get that the people he’d begrudgingly allowed Chris Christie to hire for the job had to be paid, and tried to shutter the whole operation because he thought transition workers were “stealing” his money. In November, after he had won the election, President-Elect Slow-on-the-Uptake fired everyone who’d been manning the transition team, threw their work in the trash, and decided, per Michael Lewis, that he was going to handle things “more or less by himself,” a bone-chilling determination that he made right around the time it came out that he thought Barack Obama’s West Wing staff came with the White House. In the words of his own campaign chairman-turned-senior adviser, Trump didn’t “know anything,” and worse, he didn’t “give a shit.” And apparently, not much has changed since then, only now, he’s like, y‘know, the actual president.
The Washington Post reports that, two weeks after Trump shut down the government over his ridiculous border wall, the administration—only then!—“recognized . . . the breadth of the potential impact” of the president’s actions. In other words, the people in charge of the most powerful nation in the world evidently had no idea that the government actually does stuff, and that when it runs out of money, that stuff ceases to function:
Food stamps for 38 million low-income Americans would face severe reductions and more than $140 billion in tax refunds are at risk of being frozen or delayed if the government shutdown stretches into February, widespread disruptions that threaten to hurt the economy. . . . The partial shutdown has cut off new funding to the Treasury Department and the USDA, leaving them largely unstaffed and crippling both departments’ ability to fulfill core functions.
The potential cuts to food stamps and suspension of tax refunds illustrate the compounding consequences of leaving large parts of the federal government unfunded indefinitely—a scenario that became more likely Friday when President Trump said he would leave the government shut down for months or even years unless Democrats gave him money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
That Trump, whose mental impairment is made obvious every time he opens his mouth or sends out a tweet, wouldn’t understand the impact of a government shutdown is entirely wholly unsurprising. Like a guy who—and this is just a for instance— raw-dogs a porn star first and evaluates the potential risks after, this is simply par for the course. Still, you might think that someone in his administration—perhaps the people who just got a sweet raise?—would have been aware of the consequences ahead of time. But you’d think wrong!
Senior administration officials . . . [told The Washington Post] they were focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene.
Late Monday, the White House said it had figured out a way for the Internal Revenue Service to issue refunds even if the shutdown extends into the filing season. That’s good for taxpayers, but unfortunately, it actually takes some of the pressure off of Trump to strike a deal, increasing the likelihood that President Man-Child will dig in until he gets funding for his precious wall. Of course, without a deal, thousands of other government functions remain beholden to the whims of a guy who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow. And, as he’s made abundantly clear, he couldn’t care less if federal employees—currently being advised to unclog toilets for rent—go unpaid, a point of view that presumably extends to whether or not 38 million Americans lose their food stamps, or thousands of people get evicted because, oops, a Department of Housing and Urban Development program expired on January 1.
Luckily, the president totally has a plan to end the suffering:
Just what the shutdown doctor ordered: 60 minutes of incoherent rambling about steel slats, rapists, invented-on-the-fly caravans, and an internal debate over whether or not the wall is “desperately needed” or already built and paid for. Everyone can breathe easy!
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On the other hand . . .
While the administration has claimed tax refunds will still go out even if the shutdown continues, the details re: how that’ll actually happen remain top secret at this time:
Only about 12 percent of I.R.S. staff is expected to continue working through a shutdown, according to the agency’s plan, which means certain functions such as answering taxpayer questions would be curtailed. The I.R.S. is still working on contingencies if the shutdown continues.
“The processing of returns and customer service—most of those employees have been furloughed,” said Nicole Kaeding, director of federal projects at the Tax Foundation. “How will they bring those employees back, and will they be compensated while they’re working?” she asked. “Those are some large questions that haven’t been answered, even though they said refunds would be processed.”
To be fair, the administration only realized a couple days ago that a government shutdown resulted in a shutdown of the government, so it probably needs some time to hammer things out.
Capitalism is working out pretty well for Ray Dalio
The hedge-fund manager, who said in November that “capitalism is basically not working for the majority of people” and characterized the wealth and opportunity gap as “a national emergency,” saw his flagship fund rise 14.6 percent in 2018, the worst year for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones since 2008.
You’ll never believe it, but state-run Fox News misled its viewers about A.O.C.’s comments on tax rates
To be fair, so did House Minority Whip Steve Scalise:
Hedge Funds That Returned 20 Percent Show All Is Not Lost (Bloomberg)
Wall Street Firms Plan New Exchange to Challenge N.Y.S.E., Nasdaq (W.S.J.)
Warren bashes banks and billionaires in first 2020 campaign swing (American Banker)
Therapist sues Billions, alleging Dr. Wendy Rhoades is based on her (Bloomberg)
The French Burglar Who Pulled Off His Generation’s Biggest Art Heist (New Yorker)
How Estimates of the Gig Economy Went Wrong (W.S.J.)
World Bank President Resigns to Join Investment Firm (W.S.J.)
“The first thing I could grab was a nappy . . . so I was on the floor saying ‘why won’t you die,’ and screaming and my daughter was screaming in the playroom,” Howard told 9News, of his attempts to kill a spider. (UPI)
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