Trump Appointees Are About To Get A Giant Raise While Rank-And-File Workers Barter For Rent
Pop quiz: as the government shutdown enters its 14th day, Donald Trump spurnscompromises brought to him by Democrats, Republicans, and his own vice president; museums remain shuttered; national parks overflow with garbage and human waste; vulnerable Americans lose access to medicine, water, and groceries; and 800,000 federal workers go without pay, what would be the best possible way for the administration to ingratiate itself with a quietly horrified nation? If you answered, give hundreds of senior political appointees significant raises, of course, then congratulations! You may have just earned yourself a gig working for the president, who also thinks that’s a great idea:
The pay raises for Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, top administrators and even Vice President [Mike] Pence are scheduled to go into effect beginning Jan. 5 without legislation to stop them, according to documents issued by the Office of Personnel Management and experts in federal pay.
The raises appear to be an unintended consequence of the shutdown: When lawmakers failed to pass bills on Dec. 21 to fund multiple federal agencies, they allowed an existing pay freeze to lapse. The pay freeze for top federal executives was enacted by Congress in 2013 and renewed each year since then. The raises will occur because that cap will expire on Saturday without legislative action, allowing raises to kick in that have accumulated over those years but never took effect. The raises start with paychecks to be issued next week.
Cabinet secretaries, for example, would be entitled to a jump in annual salary from $199,700 to $210,700. Deputy secretaries would be entitled to a raise from $179,700 to $189,600. Others affected are under secretaries, deputy directors and other top administrators. The pay of Pence is scheduled to rise from $230,700 to $243,500.
That this is happening against the backdrop of a situation wherein rank-and-file federal workers are being told to try and “trade services” for rent would be bad enough on its own. But in a uniquely evil turn of events that only the Trump administration could pull off, the raises are set to take effect a week after the president issued an executive order freezing pay for lower level federal employees, who were expecting a 2.1 percent salary increase this year. Meanwhile, senior officials like Pence, who already make significantly more than the average worker, will see their pay increase by roughly 5 percent. (On Friday, the V.P. reportedly said he won’t take his cash while the government is still shut down, meaning he’ll presumably happily accept it once things get up and running again.) So far, the president has seen fit to mention the many workers going without pay as a result of his shutdown on just two occasions: first to insist [they’ve all told him they want the wall and to hold out until he gets it](https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-collusion-end-shutdown-wall-funding-problem-treasury/story?id=60010837, and later to declare that “most of the people not getting paid are Democrats,” so screw ‘em.
According to The Washington Post, the deeply awkward situation “was discussed at length during a conference call Monday with officials at the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management,” with some of the sharper officials on the call expressing worry that the public won’t take kindly to the optics of the salary increases. “It was definitely a ‘this is not going to look good’ situation,’” one participant said. While it’s possible that the government’s closure just as the raise freeze was set to expire is mere coincidence, just like it’s possible Melania actually married the Donald for love, not everyone is buying it. “For a thing like this to happen, I don’t believe in coincidences,” Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, told the Post. “It certainly smells fishy, just as the federal workforce is being furloughed.”
Happenstance or not, the optics of the thing have, shockingly, left a whole bunch of people pissed. “At a time when more than 800,000 federal employees aren’t getting paid, it is absolutely outrageous that the Trump administration would even consider taking advantage of the shutdown to dole out huge raises to the vice president and its political appointees,” Representative Nita M. Lowey,the new chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.
Sure, why not:
Donald Trump confirmed that he told congressional leaders he’d keep the government closed for a year or longer if Democrats refuse to provide more money to construct a wall on the border with Mexico.
“I did, absolutely, I said that,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday, after he was asked to confirm an account of a meeting by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer said after the meeting that Trump threatened to keep the government shut down for “months or even years.”
Also on Friday, Trump threw it out there that he’s considered going around Congress altogether, and building the wall by declaring a national emergency. “I could do it if I wanted,” POTUS told a reporter. On the other hand: “If we can do it through a negotiated process, we’re giving that a shot. Is that a threat hanging over the Democrats? I’d never threaten anybody but I am allowed to do it.”
Jerome Powell would tell Trump to get bent if asked to resign
But in typically vague, ambiguous Fedspeak, of course. Per The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Powell . . . curtly addressed speculation that President Trump’s unhappiness over monetary policy might lead to his removal as Fed chairman. Mr. Trump last month raised the topic of dismissing Mr. Powell with advisers, though White House advisers later said he wasn’t planning to do so.
Mr. Powell said Friday he wouldn’t resign his post if Mr. Trump asked him to do so, which is important because it isn’t clear whether the law would allow the president to fire the Fed chairman. He declined to say whether he planned to meet with Mr. Trump. White House advisers have said they would like to arrange a meeting between the two men.
After hand-selecting Powell to replace the apparently too-short Janet Yellen in February, Trump has proceeded to bash the Fed chair for raising interest rates, telling reporters “the Fed has gone crazy,” that he’s “not even a little bit happy” with his “selection of Jay,” and that his gut knows more about monetary policy than “anybody else’s brain.” Most recently, on Christmas Eve, the totally stable ex-real-estate developer tweeted: “The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch – he can’t putt!”
Kirsten Gillibrand wondering if Wall Street would be into the idea of a Democratic senator running in 2020
Like, say, the freshman senator from New York, for instance:
Gillibrand is reaching out to Wall Street executives to gauge potential support if she were to run for president in 2020, CNBC has learned.
Gillibrand has personally been working the phones and calling senior executives at Wall Street firms in recent weeks to see whether they would back her campaign if she jumps into the race, according to two senior business leaders who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Donors in the financial community helped back Gillibrand’s successful re-election bid last year. Her effort to connect with business leaders this time comes as she contemplates entering what will likely be an expensive and protracted Democratic primary.
Gillibrand has gotten a mixed response from the executives, however. Some have enthusiastically kept the door open to helping her finance her possible 2020 operation while others are hesitant to return her calls.
In a statement, spokesman Glen Caplin told CNBC, “If Senator Gillibrand decides to run, she will run a campaign that takes no corporate PAC money and is powered by grassroots donations, and based on her values of standing up to those in power and returning our democracy to the people where it belongs.”
Source : https://www.vanityfair.com