Intelligencer: Trump Didn't Understand What His Government Shutdown Would Do

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Facing an economic disaster, Trump appears to have no endgame in mind, he's caught in a trap of his own design...

... Administration officials “recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact,” reports the Post, and was “focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene.” First Trump shut down the government, and then the Trump administration started looking into what effect this would have.

It’s likely the administration was lulled into complacency by a previous, abbreviated shutdown that took place in early 2018. This interruption in funding lasted only a few days and had barely any effect. Perhaps the administration assumed a longer shutdown would work the same way, but, you know, more of it. The reality is that the effects of a shutdown compound over time. Government agencies can creatively stretch their budgets to mask gaps in funding, but at some point, their capacity to maintain services snaps. The relationship between the length of a shutdown and its impact is not linear. A 30-day shutdown is not ten times as damaging as a three-day shutdown. It is probably 100 times as damaging.

The impending reality of millions of Americans going hungry and homeless is just one aspect of the horrors that await us. At some point, the shutdown will impinge upon Trump’s C-suite constituency. Employees of the Transportation Security Administration have had to work without pay, but that cannot continue indefinitely. Already, employees at some airports have begun staging sick-outs. At some point, air travel will grind to a halt, and with it large segments of the economy. By next month, tax refunds will be in jeopardy.

Facing an economic cataclysm, Trump appears to have no endgame in mind. He told Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer he would “look foolish” if he agreed to reopen the government without extracting concessions. But Democrats have no incentive to give him any. Voters in general tend to blame the president for problems. This holds true even when Congress is responsible for the problems, but it especially holds true when the president personally engineers the calamity and announces beforehand on camera that he won’t blame the other side for it. ...
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