As some of my critics have pointed out, I don’t often say something nice about Donald Trump. That is true. Today is an exception.
As everyone knows, the American government has been partially shut down for more than 4 weeks. Not everyone knows this has caused serious problems. It causes serious damage to the American economy as many things can’t be done, that should be done. Even more important, it has caused serious damage to many Americans. About 800,000 American government employees are not being paid. Many of them are still expected to go to work. That is inherently unfair.
I blame both sides. Not just Donald Trump, but certainly including him. Trump has said he won’t approve spending that does not include money for a wall on the southern border. This is an absurd position. It is highly unlikely that a wall will do any good. It is just window dressing for his ego. He is asking for about $5 billion at this time. This is small beer in terms of American political spending. The Democrats say they were elected on the basis of opposing the wall. But Trump also got elected on the basis of promising a wall. Both sides should get over it.
This stand-off shows how crazily dysfunctional their system of government is. This keeps happening over and over again, particularly as the chasm between Americans deepens. I damages the American international reputation. Extremism is on the march. This should be resolved. That will required either statesmanship or compromise or both. Since statesmanship is conspicuously absent, that means the parties must compromise. That means both sides have to agree to a settlement that is less than ideal from their perspective. So be it. Politicians willing to compromise in America appear to be a species on the endangers species list.
I listened today to a small part of an interview with Joseph Stiglitz a respected American economist. I really just heard one small part of his talk. That was enough. He said there were figures out there that indicated that 40% of Americans have less than $400 in their accounts. 25% have less than $1,000 That means such a shutdown has serious consequences for these people. I have heard that Air traffic controllers have been working over time at second jobs with Uber so that they pay their portages. Americans need to be fair to their civil servants (even though many of them don’t respect civil servants). Many other people have lost their jobs because they depend on working with government employees. All of this is a serious drag on the American economy.
Today Donald Trump offered to approve a temporary extension of protection for people facing deportation on the basis that they are undocumented, so that both parties in Congress have more time to come up with a solution for this serious problem, but only if Congress approves a spending bill that includes money for the wall. In the circumstances Trump has made a reasonable offer. This will help thousands of people in America who are anxiously awaiting a return to work so they can feed their families and pay their bills. It will postpone many deportations for at least 3 years. This is good. Not perfect, but good. Democrats should not let perfection be the enemy of the good. The Democrats should compromise, even though that will be painful for them. It will be good for the country. It will be good for many individuals and families. That is more important. Much more important.