Government shutdown cost U.S. economy at least $6 billion, analysis says
President Trump’s government shutdown finally came to an end — but not before costing the U.S. economy at least $6 billion, according to an analysis by S&P Global Ratings.
The rating agency’s Global Economics branch said the overall cost to the economy for the shutdown that crippled Washington, D.C., and left 800,000 federal workers without pay for a month is “likely worse than what we had previously expected.”
While the total economic cost is still unclear, the S&P analysis puts the price tag at roughly $300 million more than the $5.7 billion in taxpayer funds Trump wants to build part of a wall along the southern border.
Trump buckled under pressure Friday and ended the record 35-day federal shutdown by signing legislation to reopen the government for three weeks, backing off on his demands that Congress approve billions for a barrier he promised supporters would be funded by Mexico.
The president tried to save face Saturday, admitting that coming to a consensus in less than three weeks will be difficult.
“Will not be easy to make a deal, both parties very dug in,” he tweeted. “The case for National Security has been greatly enhanced by what has been happening at the Border & through dialogue. We will build the Wall!”
However, the fate of Trump’s long-promised partition remains uncertain as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stand their ground against the wall — and even the president’s staunchest of supporters admit the deal is a win for Democrats.
“While the president pleased few of his supporters, if any, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the radical Dems (are) taking victory laps within minutes of the president’s 18-minute announcement,” Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said as he ripped into Trump during the Friday night broadcast of his show.
The shutdown came to a head Friday as flights were grounded and passengers were left stranded at LaGuardia, Newark and other airports across the Northeast. The Federal Aviation Administration said a shortage of air traffic controllers in Virginia triggered significant flight delays that caused a ripple effect that stretched across the region.
“If the shutdown had lasted much longer, the economic impacts would have snowballed — travel problems, tax refunds, etc.,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities.
Should Trump choose to shutter the government again after the three-week agreement lapses on Feb. 15, it would sabotage consumer confidence and hurt the economy, predicted Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
“It would wipe out confidence,” Zandi said.
Trump has also threatened to declare a national emergency, a move that would face legal challenges.
The historically long shutdown could also lead to other costs, as experienced federal workers eye new opportunities rather than risk being caught up in a future fiscal fight.
Antony Tseng, an engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency and president of a local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, said he was just happy to be back to work.
“Two words: cautiously optimistic,” he said, although it was unclear exactly when he and his colleagues will be receiving their back pay. “I’m expecting more information once we’re back in the office.”
Asked about the possibility that his job could once again be on the line in a matter of weeks, Tseng said he and most of his co-workers just want to work.
“The message is still the same. We’re public servants and not politicians, and we want to stay out of the political fight,” he said.