“Republicans obsessed with defunding health care reform are pushing us closer and closer to a government shutdown that would tank the economy.”
“A government shutdown would… cost the economy more than $30 billion for every week the government remained shuttered.”
“By a three-to-one margin Americans already oppose the Republican plan to hold the government hostage to defund Obamacare. Imagine their reaction once they see the dark economic outcome of a shutdown: lost jobs and weakened economic growth.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the economic consequences of a government shutdown. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
For millions of American families the road to economic recovery has been long and difficult. And now, just as the economy begins to gain steam, some Republicans in Congress seem determined to derail four years of progress. Republicans obsessed with defunding health care reform are pushing us closer and closer to a government shutdown that would tank the economy.
The business community is gravely concerned about the impacts of a shutdown on the economy. Yesterday Republican and Democratic leaders in both Houses of Congress received a letter from the Business Roundtable – an association of CEOs that that employ 16 million people. The CEOs cautioned us about the economic dangers of a government shutdown. And they warned of the catastrophic effects of a first-ever default on the nation’s debt, the next looming crisis Republicans hope to exploit to their own short-term political benefit. This is what Business Roundtable wrote: “Failure to fund the basic business of government and adjust the debt limit in a fiscally responsible manner would risk both the immediate and long-term health of the U.S. economy… Even a brief government shutdown would have serious economic consequences and default, however temporary, would be calamitous.”
Five years removed from the worst of the Great Recession job creation, economic growth and other key economic indicators are not where they should be, but they’re headed in the right direction. The private sector has created 7.5 million jobs over the last 42 months. Jobless claims are close to a five-year low. And consumers feel more optimistic about the economy than they have at any point in the last five years.
A government shutdown would reverse those trends and stunt future economic growth. It would panic consumers and financial institutions. And it would cost the economy more than $30 billion for every week the government remained shuttered.
We know this from experience. According to non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the shutdowns of the mid-‘90s – which lasted 27 days, all told – reduced GDP by half a percent.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has joined the Business Roundtable in calling on Congress to keep the government open. This is what the Chamber said: “It is not in the best interest of the U.S. business community or the American people to risk even a brief government shutdown that might trigger disruptive consequences or raise new policy uncertainties washing over the U.S. economy.”
But a shutdown wouldn’t just impact the economy. A shutdown would send half of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce home without pay and delay wages for many military families that already live paycheck to paycheck. Although checks would go out to seniors already on Social Security, no new applications for benefits would be processed, putting seniors and disabled Americans at risk. Similarly, veterans applying for education, disability and pension benefits would be forced to wait. The Center for Disease Control would stop monitoring outbreaks. And passport applications would languish, costing airlines and travel-related businesses millions.
By a three-to-one margin Americans already oppose the Republican plan to hold the government hostage to defund Obamacare. Imagine their reaction once they see the dark economic outcome of a shutdown: lost jobs and weakened economic growth.
The revered Chinese philosopher Confucius offered a warning: “When anger rises, think of the consequences.”
I realize Republicans are still angry they lost the election in 2008. Republicans are still angry they failed to stop a landmark expansion of health care to millions of Americans. Republicans are angry that they have failed to regain control of the Senate and they’re angry that President Obama was overwhelmingly reelected last year. But it’s time to set that anger aside. It’s time for Republicans to stop obsessing over old battles, and think of the consequences of a government shutdown.