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President Trump speaking in the Rose Garden. Photo: Michael Candelori/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Asked during a Rose Garden news conference yesterday about a safety net for furloughed federal workers, President Trump replied:

"[T]he safety net is going to be having a strong border, because we’re going to be safe. ... I really believe that these people — many of the people that we’re talking about, many of the people you’re discussing — I really believe that they agree with what we’re doing."

Why it matters: A strong border doesn't pay the rent. Republican sources tell me that although they don't see an imminent solution to the shutdown — Trump said yesterday it could last for months or even years — the White House is likely to cave when 800,000 federal workers stop getting paid and the hardships become a staple of local news coverage across Trump country.

  • More than 80% of federal employees live and work outside the Washington metro area, per Federal News Network.
  • The N.Y. Times, in a new post called "What the Shutdown Would Look Like if It Happened in Other Industries," points out that the 800,000 federal employees furloughed or working without pay constitute "more than double the number of people who work for Target" (350,000+ worldwide).

Most federal workers are paid biweekly; agency payroll schedules vary.

  • But crunch time is coming: "No pay may be provided for excepted [essential] work during the December 23-January 5 [today] pay period until the lapse in appropriations has ended," the federal Office of Personnel Management says on its website.

The stories are starting to dribble out, and soon could be a flood:

  • Just before Trump's news conference, CNN — with a "SHUTDOWN DEBACLE" graphic — did a live interview from Hagerstown, Md., with Lila Johnson, a janitor and federal contract employee who worries: "I won't be able to pay my bills."
  • Nora Brooks, a 61-year-old IRS customer service representative in Philadelphia, loves helping taxpayers get their refunds. Now she's furloughed, "worrying about whether she’ll need to seek a second job," AP reports. "The agency requires pre-approval to avoid conflicts of interest, but there’s no one in the office to sign off."
  • "She stayed up until 3 a.m. Wednesday figuring out which bills needed to be paid and which could wait. ... Brooks’ recent purchases sit in bags, receipts on top, in case she needs money for the electric bill. The thermostat is turned down; she dons a hoodie inside."
  • Chris Erickson, a federal contractor and father of three from Salt Lake City, will likely postpone a 14th wedding anniversary trip with his wife to a cabin.

Be smart: For now, the shutdown is abstract for most Americans. When the coverage starts to focus on hardships in Trump country and the military, the uncrackable code may suddenly be solved.

P.S Asked whether he'd urge creditors to go easy on federal employees, Trump replied: "I think they will. ... I've been a landlord for a long time. ... [T]he people are all good for the money — they work with people. ... I would encourage them to be nice and easy."

  • Look for: stories about current and former Trump tenants, and interviews with both landlords and tenants about how common the "nice and easy" approach is.

Go deeper: The next casualties of a prolonged government shutdown

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Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Sports

The Olympic events to watch today

Katie Ledecky. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

5 events to watch today...
  • Baseball: USA plays Israel in the opening round at 6 a.m. ET on nbcolympics.com (Watch the replay at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBC Sports).
  • Women’s soccer: USA takes on the Netherlands in the quarterfinals at 7 a.m. ET on NBC Sports (watch the replay at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports).
  • 🏊 🚴 🏃‍♀️ Team triathlon: The mixed team relay Triathlon makes its Olympic debut at 6:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.
  • 🏊‍♀️ Swimming finals: Watch Katie Ledecky swim the women’s 800m freestyle final and Caeleb Dressel go for his third gold at this year’s Games in the men’s 50m freestyle. Plus live action from the mixed 4x100m medley relay. Coverage starts at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
  • 🏃‍♀️ Track and field: Athletes compete in prelims and round 1 of several events, including the women’s 400m hurdles and men’s 100m.
Ina Fried, author of Login
21 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Japan tests teleporting games and "remote cheering"

NTT is using augmented reality holograms to transport an Olympic badminton match to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Photo: NTT

Japanese telecom giant NTT is using the Olympics to show off a new generation of technologies that can transport the sporting experience to wherever fans are, instead of making them come to games.

Why it matters: Technology like this would have solved tons of problems this year, when no spectators are allowed at the actual Olympic venues. Unfortunately, it's all available only in demo form right now.

49 mins ago - Health

America's new approach to masks is even more scattershot than before

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In grocery stores and pizza joints, main streets and downtowns across the country, pandemic precautions range wildly — from nonexistent to 2020 deja vu.

The big picture: As COVID-19 cases surge, especially in states with low vaccination rates, the country is once again in the throes of a fraught cultural and political debate over face masks.