First the State of the Union address gets canceled, and then all CODELs get grounded. Now the US delegation to the World Economic Forum has its wings clipped. Maybe government shutdowns should happen more often!
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin got a similar message from Sarah Huckabee Sanders as Nancy Pelosi did from Donald Trump yesterday, albeit it with a bit more lead time. Was Mnuchin on the bus when this went out? I’d guess no:
The White House on Thursday scrapped a scheduled trip by several Cabinet officials to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, citing the partial government shutdown. …
“Out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed, President Trump has canceled his delegation’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
At least that spreads the impact to both the executive and legislative branches. If the two branches can’t agree on funding packages to open a significant portion of the federal government, the least they can do is stick around Washington DC rather than jet around the world on the taxpayers’ dime. Even if that means all they do is sit around the Beltway and glower at each other. Or maybe especially if it means that’s all they do.
Thus far, the only things lost by public officials (as opposed to employees and customers) in this shutdown are grandstanding privileges and junkets. The perks of privilege undoubtedly have some substantive value, but if one goes because of the crisis, they should all go. For Mnuchin and the Davos junket team, it’s strictly symbolic, as none of them have much to do with budget negotiations in this shutdown. When it comes to CODELs, it’s a different story, as Trump reminded everyone this morning:
Canceling the Davos delegation allows Trump to argue that he’s putting his money where his mouth is. Speaking of money, however, he’s also putting his mouth where the cash is:
“THE STATE OF THE UNION IS NOT FOR LIBERAL OBSTRUCTIONISTS,” the letter from the president blares in characteristic bolded all-caps. “IT IS FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!”
President Trump’s joint fundraising committee blasted out an email blasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for “illegitimately ‘disinviting’” the president from making his State of the Union address. Then Trump asked his supporters for some money.
“Americans DEMAND the truth, so we need to make a CLEAR STATEMENT and raise $1,OOO,OOO by Midnight TONIGHT to show your support for Border Security (the REAL security concern),” reads the kicker. Small donors are obviously the target because the note then includes options to contribute anywhere from $5 to $20 dollars.
Undoubtedly, both sides will be using this as an opportunity for fundraising, but Trump will likely have the edge in this case. He needs to rally his base hard for this effort, and they’re more passionate about supporting a wall than opponents likely are about not allowing one to be built. More importantly, as Philip Wegmann pointed out last night, it demonstrates how deeply dug into this trench Trump has become, and how difficult it will be to move negotiations in the short term. Expect plenty of glowering over the next couple of weeks.
Even if we do get a faster resolution to the standoff, can we just pretend it’s still ongoing? That way we can dispense with the dreadful and embarrassing State of the Union spectacle, self-serving CODELs, and pointless participation in “economic forums” junkets.