On Wednesday, both the New York Times and Washington Post produced pieces that said, in essence, the president is abandoning other policy initiatives he wants to put all his focus on the wall – leaving Americans who looked to him for reform in those areas in the lurch.
President Trump’s public schedule has “mostly been a sparse document,” wrote Peter Baker of the New York Times in “At the One-Issue White House, the Standoff Over a Border Wall Displaces Other Priorities.”
Tuesday’s schedule, Baker reported, included only his daily intelligence briefing and lunch with Vice President Pence.
“Democrats accuse Mr. Trump of hostage-taking tactics, but among the hostages has been his own presidency,” Baker wrote. “Other than his single-minded pursuit of a border wall, Mr. Trump has all but put on hold advancing the rest of his agenda. It has become, as one administration official put it, a one-issue White House.”
His supporting quotes from this come from Bill Galston, who worked in the Clinton White House and now works for the Brookings Institute, and Lanhee Chen, a Mitt Romney adviser in 2012.
“There are important things that aren’t being addressed,” Galston said. “There is this frustration that the shutdown is interfering with the ability of Republicans – I assume Democrats feel the same way – to advance the agenda, Chen said before admitting, “I’m not sure how quickly any agenda would be moving even if the government were open. That’s a sad testament about where we are as a country.”
The Washington Post matched that effort with “Trump shut down the government over his wall. It’s jeopardizing his other priorities,” by Colby Itkowitz and JM Rieger.
“Before the government partially shut down at the end of last year, President Trump famously said he would be ‘proud’ to own the closure to secure funding for a wall at the southern border (something he long-promised would be paid for by Mexico),” that story began.
The Post account pointed to four key areas where Trump’s agenda had stalled because of the shutdown – immigration, the economy, “legislative victories” and the 2020 election.
On immigration, the Post wrote that Border Patrol officers are working without pay, immigration judges who hear asylum cases are furloughed, “adding to an already historic backlog of people waiting in limbo to find out whether they can stay in the United States or will be sent home,” the E-verify system is down and “Trump administration immigration policies held up in court are stalled due to court orders postponing cases as a result of the shutdown limiting resources.”
Actually, E-verify is back up and running as the administration approved funding so its workers can be paid.
The Post writes that the inability of the 800,000 furloughed workers to make purchases is damaging the economy, even though the U.S. population is around 330 million. Beyond that, the country is being deprived of economic statistics from the Commerce Department, small business loans and approval of IPOs and mergers, the Post said.
As for legislative victories, the shutdown is slowing implementation of the bill that reduced sentences for some crimes and the package of legislation that addressed the opioid crisis, the Post wrote.
And then there’s 2020. Shutdowns don’t generally figure into the next election’s results, the Post admitted, but with Trump it might be different based on a recent NPR poll that showed a quarter of Trump’s voters say they are unsure if they will support him again.
“Trump has held strong on his border wall funding for fear of upsetting his base,” the Post wrote, echoing a theme that Democrats are trying to help the people, but Trump is concerned only with his base. “But the longer the shutdown drags on, the more he risks losing his less ardent supporters in the process.”