Jan 4, 2019

The shutdown presidency

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump significantly raised his rhetoric on the government shutdown today, vowing to keep it closed for "years" if needed and even invoking the idea of declaring a national emergency to build the wall.

Background: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday: "How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall."

The big picture: We're 14 days into a political fight, over roughly .1% of the federal budget, that has left hundreds of thousands without paychecks and some government functions largely paralyzed.

  • That includes tens of thousands of law enforcement officials, working without pay with no end in sight.

Between the lines: You've likely seen the viral horror stories of D.C. couples that can't get marriage licenses due to the shutdown and the broad human mess created by visitors to unmanaged national parks.

But as this shutdown goes longer, it will get worse. Among the affected:

  • Federal immigration courts, which will have to pick and choose which cases to handle, pushing some years down the road. [NYT]
  • The Interior Department, which can't pay out treaty rights obligations to Native American tribes.
  • The IRS, which won't pay out refunds or answer questions on taxes, even as tax season begins. [CNN]
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is shut down while unicorn startups like Uber and Lyft prepare IPOs. [WashPost]
  • Housing and Urban Development: "Public housing officials say they don’t know how long rental assistance payments will keep coming ... a suspension could put millions of tenants at risk if the shutdown drags on into February." [NBC]

Go deeper: Hundreds of TSA agents reportedly call in sick after 14 days without pay

Go deeper

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.

Why space is good politics for Trump

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's exuberance around today's scheduled SpaceX launch — including his decision to travel to Florida to watch — goes beyond a personal fascination with astronauts, rockets, and how to make money and wield power in the next frontier.

The bottom line: There's a presidential election in November, and the U.S. space program enjoys wide support across party lines. It's good politics for Trump, at least for now.