Studies show that 80% of our families live paycheck-to-paycheck. Lack of savings leads to an inability to pay for much, which then impacts many small businesses who also live on an ongoing cash flow. You can’t spend what you don’t have. Federal workers and contractors suffer greatly every time a shutdown happens. And we cannot overlook the long-term damage to the federal workforce from the level of disrespect being shown towards government service and the further exodus of qualified employees who are forced to seek work (and more certainty) elsewhere. In total, the negative economic impacts will continue to pile up, as economists further assess the damage left behind and the total cost to the economy, all of which amounted to nothing but an unfortunate political stunt by President Trump.
The shutdown highlighted the mess we have in Washington. Key issues—climate change, the national debt, and ticking time bombs all around the world—are getting little or no attention. Instead, we fight over a 5 billion dollar wall the President wants that even many Republicans in Congress do not. I can assure you Presidents Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and “W” would have not pushed issues for which the public and even their own party had serious reservations.
And such actions certainly do not help our image around the world, when at the same time we have abandoned all other nations on dealing with climate change. Our approach to securing much needed trade deals seems to be “our way or the highway.” A win-win approach almost always goes into deals that get finalized, serving the best interests of both parties and the American people. Additionally, we are much better off economically when our world partners are prospering too. I fear the practice of shutting down government only emboldens those who support this kind of approach to deal-making, and we should all be wary of the precedent we risk setting by making hostage-taking a normal tool for negotiation in Congress.
In the end, this shutdown ended because the cost to the country finally became a substantive political cost to President Trump, to the point where the President himself began to take notice. The onslaught of concerns over the delivery of basic government services and the security of the American public began to pile up and, eventually, boil over—even among some of President Trump’s staunchest supporters. I’ve always said that, in the end, voters can have real influence but political leaders need to know their concerns and the facts around the issues. So maybe this was an example of that process finally playing out, and it might even help to make the scope and impact of government more real and tangible for more Americans. And, perhaps, we can all agree to view our public employees as the do-er’s of the people’s business and treat them with respect and confidence.
The past 35 days have clearly demonstrated that the practice of shutting down government serves no one. And, while it’s true that this shutdown has brought about no tangible gain, it may have brought an opportunity. It is my sincere hope that we can use this unfortunate event to find a bipartisan solution, legislatively or otherwise, to take future shutdowns off the table and seek better ways to resolve our political disagreements without inflicting such unnecessary harm on the country.