Americans have really short memories. It was less than a year ago that the Republicans shut down the US government for 16 very long days. And now Mitch McConnell is threatening to do it again. I suggest we take those threats very seriously.
To refresh our country’s collective memory loss:
First, Federal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days, more than in any previous government shutdown. At its peak, about 850,000 individuals per day were furloughed. That number fell once most Department of Defense civilian employees were able to return to work as the Pentagon implemented the Pay Our Military Act.
Second, the shutdown cost the Federal government billions of dollars. The payroll cost of furloughed employee salaries alone – that is, the lost productivity of furloughed workers – was $2.0 billion. Beyond this, the Federal government also incurred other direct costs as a result of the shutdown. Fees went uncollected; IRS enforcement and other program integrity measures were halted; and the Federal government had to pay additional interest on payments that were late because of the shutdown.
Third, the shutdown had significant negative effects on the economy. The Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the combination of the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs created during the first two weeks of October. And multiple surveys have shown that consumer and business confidence was badly damaged.
The report highlights some of the more direct impacts the shutdown had on the economy by shutting down government services. For example:
- Federal permitting and environmental and other reviews were halted, delaying job-creating transportation and energy projects.
- Import and export licenses and applications were put on hold, negatively impacting trade.
- Federal loans to small businesses, homeowners, and families in rural communities were put on hold.
- Private-sector lending to individuals and small businesses was disrupted, because banks and lenders couldn’t access government income and Social Security Number verification services.
- Travel and tourism was disrupted at national parks and monuments across the country, hurting the surrounding local economies.
Fourth, the shutdown impacted millions of Americans who rely on critical programs and services halted by the shutdown. For example:
- Hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
- Almost $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed.
- Agencies from the Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency had to cancel health and safety inspections, while the National Transportation Safety Board was unable to investigate airplane accidents in a timely fashion.
- Critical government-sponsored scientific research was put on hold. Notably, four of the five Nobel prize winning scientists who work for the Federal government were furloughed during the shutdown.
Fifth, the shutdown could have a long-term impact on our ability to attract and retain the skilled and driven workforce that the Federal government needs. The shutdown followed a three-year pay freeze for Federal employees, cuts in training and support, and, for hundreds of thousands of workers, administrative furloughs earlier this year because of sequestration. These cuts will make it harder for the government to attract and retain the talent it needs to provide top level service to the American people.
To put it much more simply, it was really, truly awful.
And Americans, for a change, laid the blame (mostly) where it belonged: squarely at the feet of the GOP.
But those short memories were what the Rethuglicans were counting on, as Mitch McConnell seemingly has no qualms about threatening similar action again IF REPUBLICANS TAKE CONTROL OF THE SENATE! You’d think that would be impetus enough to keep anyone with even a modicum of sanity from voting for any member of that party.
But sadly, Mr. Predictor of Election Outcomes Better than Anyone Else himself, Nate Silver’s latest pronouncement is “Republicans Remain Slightly Favored To Take Control Of The Senate”.
I hope everyone will take a few minutes to read Dave Johnson‘s apocalyptic tome about what they are threatening to do (and will likely follow through on) should that unthinkable outcome become reality on Nov. 4: “GOP Vows to Dismantle or Shut Down Government if They Win Senate.” Dave joined me on the show this morning to explain why you should be afraid, very afraid, of that prospect (unlike the fake fears the GOP is always ginning up.)
In the first hour, Howie Klein was on with me, as he is each Monday morning, for The Steve Israel Hour, sponsored by Little Debbie. We talked about tomorrow’s primaries in FloriDUH, Arizona and Oklahoma; about Andrew Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul and how truly conservative she is, the vote coming before the people of Scotland to decide on their independence, and more..
Tomorrow, we’ll talk with Tom Risen of US News and World Report about his friend, the late James Foley. And the Gliberal Goddesses (GottaLaff, Amy Simon and myself) are back with more gliberal giddyness…. Radio or Not!