The country would face an economic hellscape if the government shutdown lasts “months or even years,” as the president has suggested it might, experts tell NBC News.
That is the extremely freaking dire assessment from economic experts watching this tantrum play out, and it’s difficult to see how it would be anything else. 800,000 federal workers cannot go without pay for months; there are not many people in all of America who could go without pay for months. TSA agents and other workers will be obligated to quit in droves. Delayed federal services, from Department of Agriculture loans to Housing and Urban Development payments, will cause cascade effects through the wider economy.
And when Americans don’t get their tax refunds?
Or when SNAP benefits, aka food stamps, run out in late February, jeopardizing 40 million people?
And as emergency disaster relief money becomes unavailable—not because Congress will not approve the money, but because the agencies that manage those funds are shuttered and there’s no way for disaster victims to get that assistance?
Or federal court proceedings nationwide ground to a halt?
As the number of Americans swells into the tens of millions, then the multiple tens of millions, and the stock markets go a-sideways as consumer spending tanks (and no public offerings until this is over, captains of industry: companies can’t get SEC clearance), things begin to get hellscapey mighty quick. It turns out you can’t just shut down a tremendous chunk of the American economy without consequences. It also may at any point turn into a more vivid and attention-grabbing national emergency if just one bug slips into the nation’s food supply due to a cancelled Food and Drug Administration inspection.