trump shutdown government furlough unpaid chores rent bills affected

Trump Administration Has Some Terrible Suggestions for Furloughed & Unpaid Government Workers Who Can’t Pay Their Rent

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It’s been a week since Donald Trump and Democrat lawmakers reached a stalemate over the President’s demands for funding for a border wall, and with no votes scheduled, it will be next week (and technically, next year) before the current partial government shutdown has a chance of ending.

Until then, many government employees are still expected to work, but aren’t being paid. (They will, hopefully, get paid eventually, although that isn’t guaranteed. After the last shutdown, government workers did receive back pay, but only after winning a class action lawsuit.) Others have been furloughed indefinitely.

In the meantime, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management tweeted out some suggestions for letters these employees can send to creditors, landlords, and the like.

The office–whose motto is “Empowering Excellence in Government Through Great People”–advises having conversations with people you expect to owe money to, asking for temporarily reduced payments, and, in some cases, offering to do chores in lieu of paying bills.

To be fair, they recommend offering services like “painting, carpentry work” to landlords and not, say, your mortgage company. Still, this feels like one flimsy and unrealistic band-aid for a very large problem.

It is still better than the advice coming from Trump and the GOP, though they’ve set an impossibly low bar. Their advice can basically be summed up as Don’t be a Democrat and Don’t work in government to begin with.

One GOP pundit, Jen Kerns, went on MSNBC to argue that most Americans don’t really care about the workers affected by the shutdown because they “did not suffer as the rest of America did in the last 10 years with the Obama recession.”

Yes, she found a way to make this Obama’s fault! Also, she apparently believes Americans are so spiteful of the “Obama recession” (otherwise known as the recovery from the mortgage crisis) that they’re happy to see approximately 800,000 Americans go without pay during the holidays, a sentiment she doubled down on on Twitter.

Trump, too, invented a political justification for his lack of empathy, claiming that “most of the people not getting paid are Democrats.”

That is a totally baseless claim, made even weirder by the fact that Trump recently told reporters that furloughed and unpaid workers support the wall and the shutdown.

“Many of those workers have said to me, communicated, ‘stay out until you get the funding for the wall.’ These federal workers want the wall,” he said, citing conversations that no one possibly believes ever happened.

The idea that those working without pay or not working at all are all Democrats or “paper-pushers” is ridiculous. The range of people affected by the shutdown is huge and includes the DEA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Coast Guard. How do these conservative mouthpieces justify celebrating, or at least ignoring, the 42,000 Coast Guard employees going without paychecks?

And even if we were only talking about office workers, those people are still working without being paid or forced not to work. That seems exactly antithetical to the conservative ethos, not to mention basic human respect.

The hoops some people find to jump through, just to support Donald Trump and his essentially symbolic wall, are pretty incredible.

(image: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.