Post Shut Down...What did we accomplish and what did we learn?
So the great economic shut-down of 2013 has come and gone. For sixteen days in October federal employees were furloughed, national parks were closed, government funded preschool programs were suspended, war memorials were roped off, federal research projects were put on hold along with a host of other services that government provides. For some Americans, the shut-down was palpable… others barely noticed.
While Congress and the President duked it out in the halls of Washington, the post office still delivered mail, Social Security and Medicare payments were still made, air travel seemed uninterrupted, the federal courts remained open and most Americans went to work, paid their bills and cared for themselves and their families.
So aside from a few vacationers being turned away at the Grand Canyon, everyone seems to have survived and things are back to normal now, right? Not so fast! Re-booting the federal machine is not as easy as re-starting Microsoft Outlook. We won’t really know the economic fallout from the shut-down for many months, and guess what … by then we may be doing it all over again
President Obama signed legislation that keeps the government open just until January 15th and extends federal borrowing power through the first week in February. So what did we accomplish? We delayed the taper, we accumulated more debt, we did not cut the Federal budget, and we have only temporarily opened the government for a few, more months.
What did we learn? Washington will most likely tell you that we learned that government is indispensable and that it does countless things to improve the quality of life of its citizens. The Democrats will most likely tell you that Republicans held the government hostage over Obamacare. Republicans will most likely tell you that Democrats refused to negotiate over spending. Most Americans will tell you that the entire thing was an embarrassment and that lawmakers need to find a way to compromise to move the country forward.
Like many crises of the past, the shut-down brought out the best in the American people. We can draw a sense of pride from our impassioned veterans knocking over war memorial barricades, or the guy from South Carolina that mowed the lawn surrounding the Lincoln Memorial, or the private foundation that stepped in to pay death benefits for military families.
Lawmakers, on the other hand, delivered neither a solution nor a resolution. Our National Debt quietly passed the $17 trillion mark. The climate in Washington is more contentious than ever, the dollar is floundering, economic data looks weak, loose money policies roll unabated, and fiscal confusion abounds. In addition, we are only beginning to grapple with the impact of Obamacare on the economy, job growth, and small business,
So in the wake of the shut-down perhaps the only thing we know for certain is that the can is now bigger, the road is now rockier, and kicking it any further … is getting harder and harder.