Fuming again over tributes to the late John McCain, Donald Trump tries to cancel pay increases for Government workers.
In a letter to Congressional leaders, Trump scrapped an automatic 2.1% pay rise scheduled for January 1 and said that there will be no across-the-board increase during 2019.
Trump’s instruction comes less than nine months after his Administration pushed through tax cut legislation which will add an estimated $1.3 trillion to the Federal Government’s deficit, including an estimated shortfall close to $1 trillion in 2018-2019.
Without mentioning the tax cut, Trump wrote, “We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases.”
But in an interview with Bloomberg, he pointed to further tax reductions, suggesting a decrease in capital gains with a regulation that would index gains to inflation.
Earlier this month, Trump made an exception to Thursday’s order, signing a 2.6% raise for troops as part of a larger military spending package.
Unions representing Government workers called on Congress to override the decision.
Earlier this week, a federal judge struck down provisions of three executive orders signed by Trump in May, making it easier to fire federal workers and limited the power of their unions.
Trump Tip-Off: Sessions to be Fired in November?
In a day dominated by US network coverage of memorial ceremonies for McCain, the celebrated veteran and US Senator who died last Friday from last Friday, Trump tried to ignore the man whom he repeatedly insulted — and to put the attention back on himself.
Besides giving an interview to Bloomberg, Trump proclaimed “Throwback Thursday” on his Twitter feed with footage of his Presidential campaign:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2018
He closed the day at a rally in Indiana, purportedly on behalf of a Congressional candidate but more to proclaim his accomplishments and to assail the media.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Trump pointed to his course of action amid his concern about the Trump-Russia investigation and following his dismissal of White House lawyer Don McGahn.
Trump did nothing to dampen speculation that McGahn’s removal opens the way to the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He said that Sessions is “safe” until November, elevating the possibility that Trump will act after the mid-term Congressional elections.
Trump has long been considering the dismissal of Sessions because the Attorney General — who met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on several occasions during 2016 — has recused himself from oversight of the Trump-Russia inquiry. The appointment of a new, compliant Attorney General could bring the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in an attempt to halt the investigation.
Asked if he will dismiss Sessions after November, Trump would not comment.
“Two Capitol Hill aides” said Trump raised the prospect of firing Sessions last week in a phone call with Senator Lindsey Graham, who urged Trump to hold off until after the mid-term elections.
Trump also complained loudly about Sessions to several Republican senators, according to a “GOP chief of staff”.
Aides said, in addition to anger over Sessions’ recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation, Trump has complained that the Attorney General’s degree is from the University of Alabama and not an Ivy League institution, that he can’t stand his Southern accent, and that Sessions can’t defend Trump on TV because he “talks like he has marbles in his mouth”.
Threat to Leave WTO
Amid his demands to Canada to accede to a “US-Mexico Trade Agreement” revising elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump threatened US departure from the World Trade Organization.
“If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,” Trump said, claiming the establishment of the organization “was the single worst trade deal ever made”.
Trump fired new volleys in his tariff wars with the European Union and China. He rejected an EU offer to remove duties on automobiles and said the US will vanquish China:
We are a much stronger country. Nobody’s waiting us out. Our country is stronger than it’s ever been financially.
Almost 500 Immigrant Children Still Separated from Parents
The latest weekly statement by Government lawyers says 497 immigrant children are still separated from their parents.
The children are among 2,654 who were detained under the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy from April. Twenty-two are under 5 years old.
The parents of 322 children have already been deported.
In late June, Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the Government to reunite all children with their parents within 30 days. Justice Department lawyers have cited various reasons for why the deadline has not been met, giving weekly updates on the status of the juveniles.