Despite President Trump vowing to keep the government closed for years, if necessary, to get funding for the wall on the southern border, his administration had not anticipated a long-term shutdown and was only now scrambling to find ways to cope, the Washington Post wrote on Friday in a story based entirely on what it claims, without evidence, to be anonymous sources inside the administration.
“The Trump administration, which had not anticipated a long-term shutdown, recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact, several senior administration officials said,” wrote Damian Paletta and Erica Werner in “Millions face delayed tax refunds, cuts to food stamps as White House scrambles to deal with shutdown’s consequences.”
“The officials said they were focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene.”
There was no evidence White House officials were seeking to “intervene,” other than nearly round-the-clock efforts to negotiate a settlement with Democrats.
With polls showing Americans mostly happy with the economy and unconcerned about the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, mainstream media has pushed a steady succession of stories about various impacts in hopes of encouraging support for Congress to end the shutdown and President Trump to sign legislation without border wall funding just to reopen the government.
“Thousands of federal programs are affected by the shutdown, but few intersect with the public as much as the tax system and the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the current version of food stamps,” the Post wrote. “The partial shutdown has cut off new funding to the Treasury Department and the USDA, leaving them largely unstaffed and crippling both departments’ ability to fulfill core functions.”
Problems with food stamps and tax refunds “illustrate the compounding consequences of leaving large parts of the federal government unfunded indefinitely – a scenario that became more likely Friday when President Trump said he would leave the government shut down for months or even years unless Democrats gave him money to build a wall along the U.S.-Southern border.”
The pain for food stamp recipients has yet to begin.
The program is funded through the end of January, and its reserves could fund most of February’s payments, the Post admits. Moreover, food stamp use has dropped dramatically during Trump’s term, with nearly 4 million leaving the program.
The Post says the Trump administration has no plan for how to deal with the absence of funds should the shutdown reach into March. “Agency officials have not said how they would address the shortfall, including whether they would prioritize who receives food aid or cut benefits for everyone across the board,” the Post wrote in language that could have been lifted from the health care debate.
After a “People will go hungry” quote from a Democrat congresswoman, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the Post pointed to other downstream consequences.
“The disruption would hurt not only the families that receive the assistance but also grocers and other retailers where money is spent.”
Then there is the matter of the IRS, which is operating with 10 percent of its staff. Last year, the government paid out $147.6 billion in tax refunds from January through March 2. This year, the administration has said it doesn’t plan to pay out any refunds until the shutdown ends, although there is some evidence it may change plans on this.
“This could have an immediate impact on the economy, as well as on the finances of millions of Americans who frequently spend their tax refunds soon after receiving them.”
This has caused conflict within the White House, the Post asserted again without evidence.
“The scale of the consequences also reflects a deep disconnect between Trump, who has largely cheered on a prolonged shutdown, and the officials running federal agencies, who are trying to minimize the fallout.” No officials or agencies are mentioned.