Trump shutdown could cost taxpayers billions by the time it's over


What a waste.

A new analysis shows the Trump shutdown is likely to waste billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars before the government is reopened. In fact, the New York Times reports that the shutdown costs more than an open, functioning federal government.

While the Times analysis does not provide an exact estimate of the cost of the shutdown, it  uses evidence from previous shutdowns to highlight how fiscally wasteful Trump and the Republicans are in forcing a government closure.

For example, there is a high likelihood that any bill to reopen the government would provide backpay to the 800,000 federal workers currently surviving without paychecks. In 2013, the Obama administration estimated a 16-day shutdown cost the federal government $2.5 billion in backpay and benefits, paid for work that employees were not allowed to perform. The current Trump shutdown has already exceeded 16 days, and Trump has said it could last for months or years.

But backpay is only part of it. During the shutdown, the federal government cannot collect some taxes and fees. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, a shutdown costs national parks $400,000 per day in lost fees. In 2013, the Times notes the parks service lost roughly $7 million in 2013, while the Smithsonian museums lost another $4 million.

Finally, a prolonged shutdown could have devastating consequences for the economy as a whole. "The longer the shutdown lasts, the faster the economy could fall," reports the Times. "If the government stops issuing nutrition assistance for low-income families, if agencies can't process federally backed home loans, if unpaid airport security workers call out sick en masse and air travel is strangled — that could add up to a major economic disruption."

In addition to the fiscal mess, the shutdown is already putting air travelers at increased risk and could lead to thousands of people being evicted due to the lack of funds for certain housing programs. National parks are filling up with human waste, and the FDA recently announced it can't perform most food safety inspections.

Trump demanded a shutdown in late December, going so far as to say he would be "proud" to own it. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has led the House to pass bills to reopen the government, Democrats refuse to pay Trump's $5 billion ransom demand to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), with the backing of Senate Republicans, refuse to even hold a vote on bills to end the shutdown without funding for the wall.

In addition to the daily harm a Republican-led shutdown does to so many Americans, it is also wildly fiscally irresponsible.

In other words, par for the course for Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.