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From the Publisher's Desk...

Can DC Survive Slashing of Federal Funding? And What About Home Rule; Will it Survive?

Now that we citizens — all 681,170 of us (according to mid-December 2016 Census Bureau estimate) — must be realistic about our fate being in the hands of a Republican Congress and a President that consider us to be creatures of a big swamp and need to be put down, as in draining the place, we started thinking about how to address the now seriously troubling questions about the District’s fiscal and political survival.

To help us get a handle on what we will very possibly be facing, we decided that our starting point ought to be seeking out some fact-based reality from one who best can respond: the long-serving chairman of the DC Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans. Here is his sobering, worse case assessment:

“The city would face enormous financial shortfalls if the Trump administration and Congress move forward with any of their proposals to defund so-called “sanctuary cities,” repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or significantly change the Medicaid funding formula.

“Specifically, the DC Auditor Kathy Patterson recently estimated that the repeal of some or all of the ACA would cost the District at least $1 billion annually in lost insurance coverage for our residents. According to the DC CFO [Chief Financial Officer] Jeff DeWitt, the District receives $1.7 billion per year in federal grants, of which $1 billion goes towards social programs and $700 million are for capital investment projects, and $2 billion per year in Medicaid matching funds.

“In total, the city is at risk for approximately $5 billion per year. There is simply no way the city can cover these costs and must be willing to work with the Congress and Executive branch to avoid these disastrous results.” Emphasis ours; more on this below.

A week after Trump was elected, on November 14th, the Mayor’s press office circulated a brief news release:

“Today, Mayor Bowser issued the following statement reaffirming the District’s status as a sanctuary city:

“The values, laws, and policies of Washington, DC did not change on Election Day. We celebrate our diversity and respect all DC residents no matter their immigration status. We are a sanctuary city because we know that our neighborhoods are safer and stronger when no one is afraid to call on our government for help, and when our police can focus on protecting and serving.”

Nice, but meaningless. And, since then nothing addressing how her administration will even attempt to prepare for the retribution to be visited on DC unless some steps are taken to adapt to the new reality. We have not heard of any viable, sustainable legal challenges that might be mounted if Trump follows through on his threats. Furthermore, we shouldn’t expect any intervention on our behalf from the Congress, not only because too many Republican members — especially in the House — despise what our progressive values stand for, but also for the reality that the Constitution gives Congress absolute power over the affairs of the District; even Home Rule is not safe!.

When we thought more on Councilmember Evans’ closing comment quoted above and italicized by us which included “must be willing to work with the Congress and Executive branch,” we take that to be telling us that, as abhorrent as it will be for us all, we may just have to bite the bullet and  for the foreseeable future — at least until Democrats can retake the field — put aside this worthy and humane policy, keeping in mind that if we don’t do it ourselves, the Congress will do anyway upon order from Trump — and don’t count on separation of powers to save us either.

In light of this depressing reality and always cognizant of the Constitutional power placed with Congress, we can understand why the Mayor has avoided any forceful blasting of Trump’s attacks in the same manner as now so many mayors across the country have done. They, at least in Democratic majority states, have a power that we do not — the ultimate power to unleash voter backlash that could start to turn the tables as early as 2018 and finally in 2020 (assuming, of course, that the Democratic party leadership and grassroots activists truly get their collective act together).

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Reader Comments

“as abhorrent as it will be for us all”

Please speak for yourself. I for one do not support the mayor’s stated intent to assist lawbreakers in continuing to break the law.

There’s a reason we have immigration policies – including to ensure our American labor force doesn’t face unfair competition by people so desperate to get a foothold in our country that they are willing to work long hours at slave wages and with no benefits. Yes, the captains of industry love having this cheap labor with which to line their pockets. Our mayor, councilmembers, and you should be less happy to see your existing constituencies lose their jobs and opportunity for jobs to this cheap slave labor. You also shouldn’t be cheering on the exploitation of illegal immigrants.

Or did you just never think it through what it really means to let third world labor in at levels that threaten the very source of livelihood of your readers?

Immigration controls exist to ensure new foreign born labor can come in at a rate that doesn’t flood the labor supply (and drive down wages) and is assured that legal immigrants are offered all the legal hard won basic labor benefits such as the 40 hour work week and holiday time.

Enforcing immigrants law is a win win for everyone — except maybe the captains of industry. Competition in the labor market remains at a healthy level, without wage suppression, and no one gets exploited.  The mayor, the councilmembers, and you should be rejoicing at and supporting any and all efforts to better enforce our immigration laws.

At a minimum you should not be assuming we all think that protecting existing workers from unfair competition and stopping the exploitation of illegal immigrants is ‘abhorrent’. It’s not. It’s the decent thing to do. But maybe you really didn’t think this through?

[submitted 2/19/17 by email from Duponter]