Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Missing paychecks due to Trump shutdown total $2 billion every two weeks

  President Donald Trump has suggested his shutdown could last “for months or even a year or longer” due to his insistence on extorting taxpayer money for a border wall that the American public overwhelmingly opposes—one that he swore Mexico would pay for. The new Democratic House majority passed legislation to reopen the government, but there is no indication that the Republican-controlled Senate will agree to end this impasse soon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has voiced his refusal to bring legislation to reopen the government to the Senate floor despite the fact that the chamber passed a similar deal unanimously just three weeks ago.

  Trump’s failure thus far to get his border wall may have bruised his ego, but for federal workers and their families, this conflict has triggered serious economic uncertainty. Because of the shutdown, nearly 800,000 federal workers have either been furloughed from their jobs without pay or have been required to stay on the job without pay. As the shutdown drags into its third week, federal employees across the country are missing out on more than $2 billion in total for each pay period that they go without a paycheck. Just one week ago, Trump effectively gave federal employees a pay cut by canceling an annual cost of living adjustment for 2019. Now, many of those workers are not being paid at all.

  Federal employees have generally received backpay after previous government shutdowns ended. But employees of federal contractors—typically low-wage roles—are much less likely to receive backpay. This means that these workers will not only suffer financial stress but also permanent monetary losses.

  Trump’s anger regarding the wall and the Senate’s acquiescence to the president threatens to inflict damage on the nation’s economy. By the White House’s own estimate—which is lower than some outside forecasts—this shutdown will likely reduce quarterly U.S. GDP by 0.1 percent every two weeks that it continues. Since first-quarter GDP is projected to be roughly $5 trillion, Trump’s shutdown will cost the U.S. economy $5 billion in lost output every two weeks it continues based on the administration’s own impact estimate. That’s $2.5 billion per week, $357 million per day, or $15 million per hour.

  As Trump continues to rationalize his shutdown by stoking fear, he is harming the very people who protect this country, including employees of the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other important agencies. Even the Secret Service agents protecting President Trump himself are not being paid during the shutdown.

  President Trump and his enablers in Congress should reopen the government immediately and stop penalizing federal workers and their families for the sake of the president’s ego.

  About the authors: Saharra Griffin and Galen Hendricks are special assistants at the Center for American Progress.

  This article was published by the Center for American Progress.

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