Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He explicitly supported a government shutdown in September when the next appropriations bill is expected to expire.

Trump got virtually nothing of what he wanted in the latest budget bill. In large part this was because even the Republican-controlled Congress preferred an Obama-style budget to what Trump had proposed. But on Twitter this morning, Trump chose to blame the fact that Senate rules allow Democrats (who control 48 of 100 seats) some influence. He concluded, "Our country needs a good 'shutdown' in September to fix mess!"

This seems to mean that Trump believes that the economic pain and inconvenience of a shutdown will make Americans support his view. (He has taken a similar approach to the Affordable Care Act, openly promising to sabotage it until political pressure on Democrats forces them to vote for a Trumpcare plan.) The effects of a government shutdown include (but are not limited to):
  • trade imbalances caused by suspension of inspection and export licenses
  • measurable slowdowns in quarterly GDP growth
  • delayed mortgage approvals
  • disrupted tourism to national parks (an estimated $500M in private-sector losses in 2013)
  • extra payroll costs (federal workers do not receive pay during the shutdown, even if required to work; reimbursing them afterwards adds costs)
  • delayed tax refunds
  • backlogs of veterans' health and disability claims
  • closed federally supported preschools
  • extra interest and penalties on federal accounts payable
  • extra staffing costs to prepare for the shutdown
  • extra staffing costs to undo preparations for the shutdown
  • decreased consumer confidence
  • delayed or canceled funding for any federal grant scheduled for payment during the shutdown
  • canceled food safety inspections
  • canceled workplace safety inspections
  • canceled wage theft investigations
  • interrupted enforcement of international sanctions
  • interruption of the E-Verify system that helps prevent illegal hiring of noncitizens
  • extra payments to contracted labor
  • waste of approximately 500,000 person-days of work per day

Trump's new pro-shutdown stance is a reversal from his stance as of last Thursday, when he tweeted: "As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks - Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. Terrible!"

Why should I care about this?

  • It's bad if a president is actively trying to make Americans suffer so that he can gain political leverage.
  • Blaming your opponents for things you want to do is called projection, and it is not a sign of mental stability.