By V. Susan Hutchinson
Ever since Donald J. Trump took the presidential oath of office on January 20, 2017, he has been holding Americans hostage in one way or another. He isn’t doing it alone; he has the full support of the Republican party.
Let’s review some of our hostage situations.
The day he was sworn in, Trump took aim at the Affordable Care Act (ACA). His first executive order instructed his administration “”to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” parts of the ACA. In the background was Congress trying to repeal the healthcare law, with no viable option for the 24 million people who would lose their health insurance.
They failed in this attempt thanks to one of their own, the late Sen. John McCain.
Under the ACA, people who did not have an employer sponsored health package and who opted out of buying into the ACA marketplace were charged a penalty at tax time. This mandate was eliminated under Trump resulting in the current situation where a court may soon determine that some or all of the ACA is invalid.
Holding Government Employees Hostage
The Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 mid-term elections. This rebuke of his policies was met with anger so who did Trump take it out on?
Innocent federal employees.
On December 22, 2018 Trump held them all hostage when he shut down the government by refusing to approve an appropriations bill because it did not meet his $5.7 billion funding demand for a U.S. – Mexican border wall. It should be noted that the GOP held Senate had unanimously approved the bill without the wall funding. This was the longest shutdown in U.S. history and lasted 35 days.
The number of federal workers affected was approximately 800,000 with 380,000 furloughed. The majority of workers who remained on the job did not receive a paycheck, including Homeland Security, TSA, Customs and Border Protection and Coast Guard employees.
With impeachment looming over his head, there is speculation that Trump will shut the government down again on November 21. If he was responsible for the longest shutdown in history because the GOP lost the house, imagine what he will do now under the threat of impeachment.
Immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have been held hostage by Trump since he announced he wanted to end the program in 2017. These “dreamers” were brought here as illegal immigrants by their parents and in 2012 Barack Obama established the program, for teens over 16 and young adults under 30, to work and study without fear of being deported; however, there was never a path to citizenship for them.
The Trump administration was blocked from ending the program and the case is now being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Trump stacked court decides in his favor, these hardworking young immigrants will be subject to deportation to countries they have never been to. Some may not even speak the language.
Trump’s “immigration reform” now targets legal immigrants as well by denying green card holders, from obtaining citizenship if they take advantage of public benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance.
The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program was started in 2008 under George Bush. The program recruits immigrants into the military because they possess critical skills. Recruits were promised citizenship in exchange for service. Trump’s ICE force is now ramping up deportation of these troops, and their families, who came here specifically to fight for the U.S.
Almost Every American is a Hostage
The hostage list seems endless. Victims of domestic violence relying on protection under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) currently being held up by the GOP Senate, American farmers who are going bankrupt due to tariffs, Californians who are losing their homes to wildfires while Trump threatens to withhold funding because of the liberal policies in the state and American seniors who rely on Social Security as their primary source of income as well as the threat of bankruptcy due to Medicare changes proposed by Trump’s administration.
The biggest hostage of all is Mother Earth. Climate change denials, rolling back rules on manufacturers to allow pollutants into the air and water again and now the EPA is limiting scientific research the government uses when it looks at public health regulations.
No one knows what Trump and his GOP enablers will do next. Do we all have to live in a constant state of fear and panic from our own government? Where does it all end?
It ends when the American people rise up at the polls in 2020 and say, in the words of Albert Finney’s character in the film Network, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Take a Stand for Freedom in 2020!