At his raucous Phoenix rally, President Trump threatened to shut down the government in a matter of weeks if Congress refuses to fund the border wall he has long promised supporters.
“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump told attendees, who fist-pumped and chanted, “Build that wall.”
The Tuesday rally wasn’t the first time Trump had raised the prospect of a government shutdown. In May, he tweeted that the “country needs a good ‘shutdown’” to leverage a better budget deal for Republicans.
A good shutdown? Recent history shows there’s no such thing.
Trump, for example, likes to brag about the growth rate of the gross domestic product.
But the 16-day government shutdown of October 2013, which was the longest since 1980, resulted in an estimated $24 billion in lost economic output, or 0.6 percent of projected annualized GDP growth, according to the Standard & Poor’s ratings agency.
Much of that came from government workers, including civilian contractors, not getting paid. And it wasn’t the whole of the government workforce that was “furloughed,” only about 850,000 employees, or about 40 percent of the federal civilian workforce, according to the Congressional Research Service. There were exemptions for many workers deemed essential.
Trump has promised to supercharge oil and gas drilling in America. But the shutdown of government all but shut down the drilling permitting process temporarily.
He portrays himself as someone who knows how to run a business, loves monuments and is making life better for veterans.
But the 2013 shutdown closed national monuments, stalled disability checks for veterans and disrupted loans for small businesses.
The shutdown was overwhelmingly unpopular, with 8 in 10 Americans saying they disapproved of the government closure, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
At the time, President Barack Obama blamed Republicans, who he said used the budget bill to try to leverage a rollback of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans blamed Obama and the Democrats, who they said wouldn’t negotiate.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said that it was “very hard from a distance to figure out who has lost their minds. One party, the other party, all of us, or the president.”
If a shutdown occurs this year, there might not be the same blame-game: Trump has already claimed responsibility for it. That’s unprecedented for a sitting president.
The current bipartisan spending agreement, reached in late April, will fund government operations through Sept. 30. Lawmakers reached the deal only after Trump dropped his demand that the spending package include funds for the border wall. But the rift between Trump and Congress — including his notably frosty relationship with Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell — has only grown since then.
Trump is a man who loves a good show. But the optics of a shutdown, the way it looks on television, are awful.
In 2013, a group of visiting veterans, some in wheelchairs and other leaning on canes, stormed the World War II Memorial, which had been closed by the National Park Service because of the shutdown. It was riveting television but lousy politics.
The same was true for those tourists at the Statue of Liberty, disappointed and angry to learn they couldn’t visit it.
National parks closed, leading to $450,000 a day in lost revenue, according to the National Park Service, including considerable economic suffering for the communities near them.
Below is a sampler of other shutdown consequences from 2013 taken verbatim from a November 2013 report from the Executive Office of the President. The government shutdown:
Disrupted private-sector lending to individuals and small businesses. During the shutdown, banks and other lenders could not access government income and Social Security Number verification services. Two weeks into the shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had an inventory of 1.2 million verification requests that could not be processed, potentially delaying approval of mortgages and other loans.
Hindered trade by putting import and export licenses and applications on hold. For example, because the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau was unable to issue export certificates for beer, wine, and distilled spirits, more than two million liters of U.S. products were left sitting at ports unable to ship.
Halted permitting and environmental and other reviews, delaying job-creating transportation and energy projects. For example, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was unable to process about 200 Applications for Permit to Drill, delaying energy development on Federal lands in North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and other states.
Halted Federal loans to small businesses, homeowners, and housing and health care facility developers. The Small Business Administration (SBA) was unable to process about 700 applications for $140 million in small business loans, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was unable to process over 500 applications for loans to develop, rehabilitate, or refinance around 80,000 multifamily rental units.
Stalled weekly progress in reducing the backlog of veterans’ disability claims, which was previously being reduced at a rate of almost 20,000 claims per week.
Delayed almost $4 billion in tax refunds and … the start of the 2014 tax filing season by up to two weeks.
Prevented the timely and complete investigation of 59 airplane accidents by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Delayed workshops for 1,400 military service members to help them transition to civilian life and employment.
In short, shutdowns tend to remind people in dramatic ways that the government actually does things, things that are often missed when they’re gone.
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