Trump's shutdown managed to get even crueler.
Trump refuses to end the government shutdown, and now he's announced nearly 50,000 more federal employees have to go to work without pay — in addition to the 420,000 "essential" workers already doing so. This includes 36,000 federal employees who are being asked to come back to work at the IRS ahead of tax filing season.
"The move will allow Americans to get their tax refunds on time," reports CNN, "but at the expense of the IRS employees, most of whom won't be paid."
IRS employees are not alone. The Interior Department is forcing workers to come back to help sell federal land to oil and gas companies.
An estimated 800,000 federal workers are not receiving paychecks because of Trump's shutdown. "Essential employees," such as TSA agents at the airport and secret service agents, are being forced to work without pay. However, many others are prohibited by law from performing their job duties until the government reopens.
As federal workers go longer and longer without paychecks, difficulties increase. One employee in Pennsylvania worries about homelessness. Another in Wisconsin is taking a life-and-death risk by cutting back on critical medication.
Mallory Lorge, who has Type 1 diabetes, is rationing her insulin because she can't afford to buy more until she is paid. NBC News reports on her coping strategy.
Her blood sugar rose to a high level last week, but she said she felt forced to ignore it. Instead, she went to bed.
"When it gets that high you can go into diabetic ketoacidosis, you can go into a coma," she said. "I can't afford to go to the ER. I can't afford anything. I just went to bed and hoped I'd wake up."
It is bad enough that Trump and his Republican accomplices are forcing people like Mallory to make these types of decisions. But now the Trump administration is forcing more of these furloughed employees back to work without paychecks, and not for safety or national security reasons. The whole point is to try to influence public opinion.
"The practical effect is that more government workers will be doing their jobs without their paychecks," reports CNN, "but it will also work to mute the impact of the shutdown in the everyday lives of Americans who aren't directly touched by the shutdown."
The general public knows full well that Trump and his Republican accomplices are responsible for the shutdown and all the harm to come from it. First of all, Trump boasted — on national television — he would be "proud" to own the shutdown. Despite Trump's obstinance, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats have passed numerous bills to reopen the government, all of which have been rejected by Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Poll after poll shows the general public blaming Trump and Republicans for the shutdown. Forcing even more federal workers to come back to work without paychecks isn't going to sway those opinions.
The only way to stem the harm from the shutdown is for Trump to admit defeat and sign a bill to reopen the government.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.