What’s Left: Reflecting on Consequences of the Shutdown

Though Donald Trump ended the longest government shutdown in history, Americans still feel its lasting social and economic impacts. The question remains: was it really worth it? I argue that this shutdown was extremely counterproductive, as its economic consequences are more than double the amount that Trump was seeking for his border wall. The New York Times found that the shutdown is estimated to have had an $11 billion dollar impact on the U.S. economy, while Trump was seeking $5.7 billion for the wall. The impact of this loss is felt nationally by government workers, who struggled to provide for their families without steady incomes. Additionally, an agreement still has not been reached regarding the status of the border wall, as Democrats continue to refuse to fund it.

There are many instances of families with government workers who were forced to alter their lifestyles over the five-week-long shutdown, which is frightening because they view their jobs as typically secure and reliable. One of thousands of examples of the economic toll of the shutdown is federal contractor Kelly Spencer. Spencer was planning on purchasing a new home in the spring, but because she is a contractor, she will not receive back pay, and thus does not have the funds for new home. Even those who are going to receive pay for the five weeks of shutdown are struggling. State Department employee Tamara Brown stated, “I don’t feel comfortable going back to the spending levels I had before…I am going to be very conservative until I am sure it is all over.” Money.com estimates that around 800,000 workers are financially impacted in some way by the government shutdown. Trump is so consumed with protecting American citizens from immigration that he is forgetting that the best way he can protect Americans is by doing his part to ensure economic stability. That he neglected this basic and essential mandate as president is horrifying, especially considering that the effectiveness of the wall itself is questionable, to say the least.

These smaller examples of economic struggles add up to more significant economic impacts. When thousands of families are forced to be conservative with their finances due to lack of pay, the economic growth of the nation as a whole is slowed. Economic growth was already expected to slow this year. However, the budget office predicted that the real gross domestic product will slow to 2.3 percent, as opposed to 3.1 percent last year. In addition, Alan Rappeport and Binyamin Appelbaum found that the federal budget deficit is estimated to hit $900 billion. Trump ending the shutdown gives us a glimpse of hope. However, his unpredictable nature leaves many, including me, unsettled.

Contact Rachel Gunders at [email protected].