Shutting down the government could cost the federal government well over $2 billion dollars if it resembles the last shutdowns in 1995-1996, though the economy would be harmed in additional ways that are nearly impossible to measure.
The Office of Management and Budget estimated that two government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, totaling 27 days, cost the federal government $1.4 billion. That’s over $2 billion in today’s dollars on costs like back pay to furloughed federal workers and uncollected fines and taxes. That number doesn’t begin to account for intangible losses in worker morale and productivity, and confidence in the federal government.
Doug Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said a short-term shutdown will have a fairly small economic impact. The federal government spends roughly $3 billion a day in discretionary spending, so a disruption like the ones in 1995 and 1996 could wind up being roughly equivalent to the cost of keeping the government running for a day. Continue reading “Government shutdown: What’s the cost?”