The Congressional Budget Office sent a bipartisan gift to Capitol Hill with its report on the dollars and cents cost of the partial shutdown. Lawmakers can’t resist the opportunity to seize on anything with a high cost to taxpayers if they don’t support whatever caused the loss. If they do support it, then it’s easily rationalized and brushed under the carpet.
Norma Torres (D-CA) demonstrates how it’s done:
With total control of federal spending, a seat on this [House Appropriations] committee means that I can support strengthening the Inland Empire and fighting the wasteful spending we have seen by the Republican Congress.1
That’s a bold statement coming from a Democrat in a state known for extremism, but remember that high cost and wasteful spending are relative.
Total control is not. Sometimes the cost of lost dollars simply doesn’t matter to those in control when they have their sights set on what they want to spend on.
What legislators who are blaming the White House for wasting our money and delaying $18 billion in discretionary spending don’t mention is that we waste a lot more money when the government is working than anything in the CBO’s report.
That’s a problem they like to talk about but don’t fix.
High cost to taxpayers is lawmakers’ prerogative
I don’t know what the word “debilitating” means to members of the House but Democrats John Yarmuth and Tom O’Halleran quickly applied the label to the CBO’s findings:
The CBO confirms that the Trump shutdown had a debilitating effect on our entire economy …2
The report does not use the word “debilitating.” It doesn’t use “devastating” either, but that didn’t stop Nancy Pelosi.3 She also talked about restoring certainty to our lives. Would the Speaker be surprised to discover that many of us felt no impact whatsoever other than angry harangues from her colleagues who were fearful they would be blamed? Probably not. Pelosi isn’t stupid. She’s a performer just like the president she’s trying to pin this on.
What’s $3 billion to Hoyer?
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) lamented “$3 billion permanently lost due to decreased economic activity.”4
For a politician in Hoyer’s position $3 billion isn’t even worth talking about, but it’s a lot safer than discussing the really big losses that go on year after year.
Two favorites mean four times the taxpayer loss
What constitutes justifiable waste and what is an unforgivable loss to taxpayers?
It all depends, but the answer has nothing to do with spending our money responsibly.
Medicaid, Medicare, and health care for all
While Democrats shake their heads about shutdown waste their socialist inclinations force them to keep pushing the nationalized health care system they never accomplished with Obamacare.
No one in Washington can control the health care billions that slip through our fingers. When lawmakers talk about the high cost to taxpayers from a shutdown they helped make happen they might also point out that Medicaid alone doles out bad payments that are double the CBO’s $18 billion damage estimate.
That’s just one program and one very small example.
Another program afflicted by lawmakers’ oversight is Medicare, the program U.S. socialists want to use as a model for health care for all.
“For all” is a lot of people.
The most recent estimate for Medicare Fee for Service is $31.6 billion in bad payments. Combined with Medicaid these two federal programs have nearly four times the loss and uncertainty as the shutdown.
The difference is that Democrats like big government health care and they don’t like Trump.
Shutdown = health premium increases?
Despite the billions in waste House Democrats now oversee and a deeply flawed program they created, House Ways and Means Committee members accused the president of being responsible for health premium increases:
Families are facing a shutdown health care tax that increases their premiums and threatens their health coverage. Due to the cessation of most IRS operations, we are concerned that some taxpayers will face an unexpected spike in premiums for their health care coverage due to delayed payments of APTCs,” the members wrote.5
Many of us have lived in fear of big premium increases since March 23, 2010. Our fears were realized many times over. That’s another high cost to taxpayers we don’t hear much about, especially from the party that created the problem and wants us to ignore what they’ve done because it turns their support for the middle class into a lie.
Taxpayers lose money to the IRS, too
When is a recession a good thing for taxpayers? When we’re discussing the IRS tax gap. The tax losses held steady from 2006-2009 because of the economic downturn.6
We haven’t been so lucky since then. The tax gap forces tremendous costs on taxpayers because someone has to make up the difference estimated at $458 billion. That’s $113 billion more than the tax gap in 20017 and $440 billion more than the $18 billion in delayed spending.
$3 billion? Pocket change.
Author’s note 2/3/2019: What’s the real time tax gap? We don’t know or if we do, taxpayers have not been informed. The tax gap figures in the graphic are the current estimate on the IRS website.
More government, more cost to taxpayers
The bad thing about government wasting your money is that the more government we have the more money gets wasted.
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), one of the new breed of radical activist Democrats, pledged to protect us:
My constituents and residents across the country deserve representatives that will fight to hold Wall Street accountable and keep big banks from taking advantage of consumers.8
We’ve heard that trite, tired line so many times over that it means nothing. What is important is that we never hear how members of Congress hold themselves accountable for the high costs they inflict on taxpayers by either doing too much or not doing enough.
Wall Street puts money in our pockets.
We’re waiting for Democrats to do that.
Don’t hold your breath.
UPDATE February 2, 2019: How do Dems explain 304,000 jobs?
The private sector is still booming to the tune of 304,000 jobs despite Pelosi’s threat after the glowing December 2018 jobs report:
the gains threaten to slip away because of the Trump Shutdown.9
Instead we got another great jobs report and more sour grapes from Pelosi:
The January jobs report holds some encouraging news, but it belies the lasting financial damage that the Trump Shutdown has inflicted on hundreds of thousands of Americans across the nation.10
We can assume those Americans include federal workers receiving back pay for not working during a layoff, something those of us toiling in Middle America are completely unfamiliar with and would never expect.
Is it possible that a shutdown restores certainty to businesses worried about the speaker’s radical Democratic flock and the high costs they are ready and willing to inflict?
Nothing brings certainty like having a job, being able to change jobs for something better, and knowing there is always opportunity out there.
Nothing kills certainty like worrying about what the radical Democratic fringe is going to do to our pocketbooks.
We’ll see what the BLS says on March 1. Another Trump Shutdown could help bolster the numbers. Much as it pains the speaker’s party to have fewer Americans in need, the private sector loves having this president in office and a great January jobs report proves it.
1. “Torres Appointed to Powerful House Appropriations Committee.” Norma Torres. January 15, 2019. https://torres.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/torres-appointed-powerful-house-appropriations-committee, retrieved January 31, 2019.
2. “Chairman Yarmuth, Rep. O’Halleran Respond to New CBO Report on Cost of Trump Shutdown.” House Committee on the Budget.” January 28, 2019. https://budget.house.gov/CBO%20Estimate%20Cost%20of%20Trump%20Shutdown, retrieved January 29, 2019.
3. Pelosi, Nancy. Pelosi Statement on CBO Report on Devastating Economic Impacts of the Trump Shutdown. January 28, 2019. https://pelosi.house.gov/news/press-releases/pelosi-statement-on-cbo-report-on-devastating-economic-impacts-of-the-trump, retrieved January 29, 2019.
4. “The Trump Shutdown Harmed the Economy, Working Families, and National Security.” Steny Hoyer. January 29, 2019. https://democraticwhip.house.gov/content/trump-shutdown-harmed-economy-working-families-and-national-security, retrieved January 31, 2019.
5. “Democratic Health Leaders Raise Threat of Premium Increases, Coverages Losses Due to Trump Shutdown.” Ways and Means Committee. January 14, 2019. https://waysandmeans.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/democratic-health-leaders-raise-threat-premium-increases-coverage-losses, retrieved January 30, 2019.
6. “Trends in Compliance Activities Through Fiscal Year 2017.” Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. September 13, 2018. p. 3 https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2018reports/201830069fr.pdf, retrieved January 31, 2019.
8. “Plans to tackle insurance and mortgage redlining, along with corporate greed on Wall Street.” Rashida Tlaib. January 17, 2019. https://tlaib.house.gov/media/press-releases/congresswoman-rashida-tlaib-tapped-serve-powerful-financial-services-committee, retrieved January 31, 2019.
9. “Pelosi Statement on December Jobs Report.” Nancy Pelosi. January 4, 2019. https://pelosi.house.gov/news/press-releases/pelosi-statement-on-december-jobs-report-7, retrieved February 2, 2019.
10. “Pelosi Statement on January Jobs Report.” Nancy Pelosi. February 1, 2019. https://pelosi.house.gov/news/press-releases/pelosi-statement-on-january-jobs-report-7, retrieved February 2, 2019.
Image from “Protect the Tax System.” IRS. https://www.irs.gov/about-irs/strategic-goals/protect-the-tax-system, retrieved and added February 3, 2019.
Medicaid PaymentAccuracy.gov link updated June 20, 2020.