Darian McCrary | Guest Writer
While we are days away from being witnesses of the longest shutdown in the history of the United States, it is easy to believe that this debacle is just about an immature leader of the free world being told no by the system that checks his power. Although at some level that is true, in the harshest level of reality, the government shutdown is truly reflective of how much aristocracy exists within the highest forms of the United States government.
In the Executive Branch, members of the President’s Cabinet continue to get paid. This is shockingly problematic there is not a single person in President Trump’s Top Cabinet positions who maintains a net worth below $800,000. Individuals who are already in the top 1% of the United States are still able to receive pay while the governments workers who are the most vulnerable cannot receive any funds to care for their families.
What makes this even worse is that the administration and it’s departments seem to either not care or simply not understand as to why this is morally bankrupt. The idea that President Trump does not really understand what it is like for the people whose pay he has taken away because he refuses to respect congressional checks is revealed within his aforementioned rhetoric. President Donald Trump, who has a networth of 3.1 billion dollars claims that he can actually “relate” to the struggles of those who are not receiving pay. Within that same statement, his response to people being economically destitute due to lack of pay was that “they will make adjustments” A billionaire telling people who live paycheck to paycheck that he understands their struggles, is the President of the United States. If that is not reflective of the blatant disregard for these people, I quite frankly am unsure what is.
But Donald Trump is unsurprisingly not the only one in the government who seems to not want to engage with the idea that people are not getting pay. This can be seen through the fact Office of Management and Budget in a conference call on Dec 31 were concerned about the public perceptions of the raises that the executive branch was set to receive. [Refer to this Time article concerning the accurate details of said raises] Saying nothing of the fact that on general principle we should not be even contemplating increasing the pay of government officials when other government workers aren’t making pay at all. The fact that the general concern was not that it was unjust, but rather not perceptually convenient is extremely telling of how much the government neglects to care about the most vulnerable.
This ignorance is not limited to the Executive Branch. Insensitivity is also prevalent in the Legislative branch as well. In both the House and the Senate, members of Congress are still able to receive pay. Disregarding the fact that the average income of members of the U.S Congress is around $511,000 (not adjusted for the 116th Congress). Now it is only fair to note that 248 members of Congress have rejected their pay for principled reasons. However some are not so morally upright. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R.- N.D) believes that there is no reason to deny his paycheck because he works hard for his money (saying nothing of the other 800,000 government employees who do the same). The North Dakota Senator’s opinion of him receiving his pay is reflective of the selfishness within the elite of the government.
The problem is even if some members of Congress have refused to receive their pay, the fact that the Congress, The Supreme Court Justices, and the Cabinet, those are people who need it the least, are able to still receive pay in times of shutdown speaks volumes of where the government’s priorities really are. Those priorities are not on the tired, they are not on the poor, they are not on the huddled masses, they are on the elite.
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