Trump Administration Got Roasted For Telling Federal Workers Hurt By Shutdown To Do Menial Labor In Exchange For Rent

President Trump shows no sign of backing down from his Fox News-inspired government shutdown over funding a border wall. Democrats are also standing firm on not funding the wall, which means this awful experiment in TV-run state is going to continue for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, federal workers are the ones suffering most directly from Trump’s shutdown.

Furloughed federal employees and those working without pay have become the face of the shutdown, sharing their stories of ruined Christmases, uncertain financial futures, and desperation. It seems the Trump administration noticed, because someone from the Office of Personnel Management (basically the HR & payroll departments for the federal workforce) tweeted some tone-deaf tips for how unpaid federal workers should get by until the shutdown is over.

The truly genius advice from Trump’s OPM comes in the form of “sample letters” you can send to creditors or your landlord, one of which included an offer to trade menial labor in exchange for rent:

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

You read that right! The Trump administration thinks the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees should roll up their sleeves, strap on some overalls, and start hanging drywall to get by without pay.

To add insult to insult to injury, Trump’s OPM also advised workers to get their “personal attorneys” to help them negotiate some deals:

Yeah, or maybe they could borrow some cash from their personal chefs, or tell their butlers to wave off collection agencies, or have their valets sell the rattiest Rolls Royce to cover expenses! Gotta think outside the box, folks.

The slapdash tone-deaf advice got roasted on Twitter:

But there’s more to the story. After getting brutally dunked on, OPM decided to quietly update the letters.

The original link automatically downloaded a doc file (which is rude as hell, don’t do that) titled “sample-letters-for-creditors-mortgage-companies-and-landlords.doc” that included three sample letter, the last of which included the offensive bartering strategy.

Someone swapped out the files, however. The link currently downloads a doc titled “sample-letters-for-creditors-and-mortgage-companies.doc,” with only the first two sample letters. The insulting “odd jobs” letter has mysteriously vanished. Guess someone at OPM learned that it’s not currently Tom Sawyer times and you can’t just slap a fresh coat of paint on a banister in exchange for reduced rent.

OPM hasn’t commented on the switcheroo yet, and the shutdown provides a convenient cover for their silence.

Still, federal workers deserve an answer as to why the Trump administration thinks they should (or could) perform maintenance work to cover their rent. Donald Trump and Jared Kushner were actual landlords (and bad ones) and if you think either of them would ever agree to a deal like that, I have a bridge to sell you with very affordable rent rates!

Full-time federal employees will receive back pay once this grotesque shutdown (the third of this year when Republicans control Congress and the presidency!) is over. However, the damage to the federal workforce could be considerable. How many civil servants are going to stick around working for a government Republicans keep breaking to make their rabid base—and the right-wing media that keeps them that way—feel like they’re accomplishing something?