The government shutdown is frustrating for most of us. Personally, I see no benefit from the shutdown and significant harm to the US in a variety of manners.
There is a substantial economic cost to the shutdown. It is not just the income which is not being paid to federal workers, but it is all the businesses, especially small businesses affected by the shutdown...
- According to a report issued by the S&P Global Ratings, as of last Friday, January 11th, the shutdown had already cost the US economy $3.6 Billion Dollars.
- The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the 16-day shutdown in October 2013 resulted in a 0.3 percent reduction in real GDP growth.
- Some of the effects of the shutdown include businesses which cannot get SBA loans, farmers cannot get Agriculture Department loans, private companies may not be able to get paperwork processed for initial public stock offerings because the Securities and Exchange Commission is operating with a skeletal crew, and brewers cannot get new beers approved because the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is closed. These are just a few examples.
- There is a human element in all those government workers who have a job but are not getting paid thru no fault of theirs. Many will not be able to make rent or mortgage payments, cancel daycare and then be forced to go on a waiting list for the daycare, pay other living expenses. Also, many service jobs such as restaurant workers, nannies, taxi drivers to name a few will be affected by fewer customers resulting in these workers having increased difficulty meeting their living expenses.
- All of the above are essentially political pawns. The suggestion made by some politicians that furloughed works should try and barter as an option for not paying rent has neither empathy for individuals or an appreciation for the value of having a job and earning a living.
Of the losses of government services mentioned above, the one I think of the most is the effect the shutdown has on our National Parks. I truly value and treasure our National Parks. They are a public resource owned by all of us. The lack of respect by the President and Congress for our beautiful and historic National Park system is an insult to all of us.
Going forward, I would suggest two changes in the laws related to government shutdowns. Neither is likely to happen, but both would be beneficial in my estimation.
- Once a government shutdown takes place, the President and all of the President's staff along with each member of Congress and their staff's are not paid during the shutdown and have a termination of benefits including health insurance until the government is funded.
- To my knowledge, only one senator, Catherine Marie Cortez Masto, a Democrat from Nevada has said she will donate her salary to charity during the shutdown. Every Senator and member of the House of Representatives should do the same along with the President.
- In the event of a shutdown, the next National Election, in addition to elections for seats for all members of the House of Representatives, and seats for all Senators including ones who have time left on their terms should be up for election along with the sitting President. More important, no existing member of Congress or the sitting President during the shutdown would be eligible to run for National office during this Election.
Some may say this would lead to chaos. Maybe, but could be better than the chaos we have now. In addition, a government shutdown is a failure of the President and Congress on the most fundamental level.
The reality is our President, Congress, and their staffs, have to use an expression, "no skin in the game." I suspect if either of the above were to become law of the land, we would never again have another government shutdown. Both are extremely unlikely, but one can always hope.