The Shutdown Is Over, For Now
Like the Treaty of Versailles, this ceasefire may not last for long. Irrespective of one being a federal government worker; this shutdown had a multitude of indirect consequences for a lot of people.
Despite the shutdown being over funding for Donald Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border, the shutdown affected all aspects of Americans’ lives. According to the TSA, the hazard levelon the airports was unimaginable, the national parks were closed, governmental pages and servers were down, and businessesserving federal workers lost most of their revenue. However, what is often forgotten is how terrible the shutdown was for the US Economy.
Intuitively one would think that if the government is in the shutdown, while not operating its spending is much lower than usual. In reality, the spending becomes postponed to when the government opens, and when it does the workers are being repaid for their lost time, whether they were working or not, and independent on their performance, which usually was worse than usual, due to them not being paid. Additionally, the budget is not being updated, meaning that with constantly changing demand, the government has the exact same spending. All that causes the government to operate less efficiently, and more expensively, wasting tax-payers’ money, that could have been used in other places.
The even worse effect the shutdown has had on the economy itself. Lack of government funding means instability, which hurts investment, especially on companies that are providing some services or goods for governmental projects. It also means lengthier periods of customs, regulations, and quality checks by federal agencies. This reverberates to all the other industries, as all of them are connected through the market, which leads to the US economy’s growth being heavily impaired, as the GDP growth prediction for the first quarter was lowered from 2.5 to 2.1 per cent, which translates to a loss of around 80 billion dollars.
Trump sinks in the polls
Two of the main features of Trump’s candidacy for President has always been a focus on the economy and security of the country, while at the same time being a populist leader and a fighter. In the eyes of the majority of the American public, the struggle for the wall has not been a presentation of that promises.
The wall worked as a dividing force among Trump supporters, as even though most of them perceive the wall as crucial for the US Security, however, whether the means justify the ends was a matter of great discussion. All of them do not like the idea of 800 thousand Americansnot being paid for their work; thus, some decided to oppose the shutdown. Outside of Donald Trump’s base, the opposition was only stronger and more decisive, coming both from the Democratic and Republican electorate.
The result of that was the President reaching one of his lowest approval ratings in the two years he has been in office. According to recent polls, only 34% of Americansapprove the Trump presidency, which looking at the 2020 elections is definitely not good news for his team. Additionally, some who approved of the shutdown already called him weak for suspending it, as they perceive it to be a concession made to the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Donald Trump has recently fired back for these allegations, but it may not have been enough to save his face in front of some part of his base.
Divisions in Congress
Republicans in Congress turned out to be the ones caught up in the middle of the standoff between the President and the House, over the spending bill. At first most of them disapproved and opposed the wall funding, either being that high or in general. However, as the President represents the Party, in the eyes of the American electorate they were as liable for the shutdown as he was. This led the majority of them to move to Donald Trump’s side on the bill, to save their face, especially that the elections are coming soon.
However, this did not stop a major division among the Republican Congressmen, behind the closed doors. Mitch McConnell who tried to avoid the responsibility for bill propositions not being brought to the Senate, was heavily criticised by his fellow Party members. The only major break we could have observed officially was when each of the Parties proposed a spending bill, and the Democrat one turned out to be more popularin a Republican-controlled Senate. So far, the Centrist wing of the Majority was the only one to openly oppose the wall from the beginning till the end of the shutdown.
Even though the shutdown was a great PR win for the Democrats, they have not been spared internal battles of their own. Many Democratic Congressmen and voters criticised the handling of the shutdown negotiations by the Democratic leadership in Congress, Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer. Pelosi has successfully used the situation as a demonstration of power , but her approval ratings are just as lowas President Trump’s. Despite being universally opposed towards the Wall being included in the spending bill, the already divided Democratic Party has definitely not been united because of the shutdown.
The interwar period
Lawmakers do not have much time left before the ceasefire ends, but it does not seem that they can reach a conclusionsatisfying President Trump’s demands for the border wall funding. In that case, President might declare the state of emergency, diverting the money from the US Forces to building the wall, a move which is supported by only 38%of the electorate, 7% morethan the support for another shutdown. If the impasse continues the results may be very damaging both for the Republicans and Americans in general.
That is just one of the things the President has to worry about, as the Mueller investigation is seemingly coming to an end. Last week one of Donald Trump’s closest allies, Roger Stone, was indicted for seven felony chargesand arrested using a heavily weaponized assault team. It seems that Roger Stone may try to appeal to the President to pardon him,but it certainly would have caused a negative impact on the President’s image as being impartial.
With two paychecks skipped, long term problems created for the US economy, divisions breaking alliances in both major parties, and the Mueller investigation coming to an end, the third year of Donald Trump’s presidency starts in dramatic circumstances. We do not know how all of these conflicts are going to end, but we may be sure that 2019 will be very fruitful in clashes breaking old alliances and creating new ones, possibly shaping not only the 2020 elections but also the next decade.