Romer: All sides need to find a way to keep the government open (column)
When funding expired on Dec. 21, a substantial portion of the federal government shutdown and didn’t open up again until Jan. 25. The shutdown, the longest on record, included all “non-essential” operations of the departments of commerce, transportation, agriculture, homeland security, justice, interior, housing & urban development, state and foreign operations and for agencies including the IRS, EPA and for federal research programs.
Some of the negative impacts the shutdown caused the country and the business community are:
• Companies of all sizes were delayed in ability to secure loans, raise additional capital, complete IPOs and process required forms and documentation.
• Mortgage approvals for homeowners and businesses were delayed.
• Travelers at airports experienced long waits.
• Funding for highways and transit was put on hold.
• Mergers and acquisitions were postponed.
• Imports were hindered and tariff exclusions were unprocessed.
• Farmers were frozen out of federal credit and assistance.
• Cybersecurity and on-site critical infrastructure inspections were impacted.
The shutdown impacted our local community as well as our visitors. As such, the Vail Valley Partnership joined 644 other chamber and association groups earlier in January to sign on to the following letter urging resolution to the shutdown:
“To the president of the United States and members of Congress:
On behalf of the American business community, we urge Congress and the administration to immediately take steps to restore the full operation of the federal government.
The current shutdown — now the longest in American history — is causing significant and in some cases lasting damage to families, businesses and the economy as a whole. The harm is well documented and continues to compound with each passing day.
Since the shutdown began, various compromises have been floated by both Republicans and Democrats. There are numerous paths forward that would allow for the government to be reopened that should be acceptable to all parties. Failing to seize on one of those compromises that can pass Congress and be signed into law is unacceptable.
The time to act, the time to end this shutdown is now so that we can keep the economy moving forward.
It is not about assigning blame, but rather to encourage both sides to compromise and solve this problem. We applaud those in our business community such as Alpine Bank and Our Community Foundation who developed programs and support networks to help government employee on furlough.
As recently noted by the Vail Daily editorial board, our local economy depends on working effectively with federal agencies, most especially the Forest Service. It’s right — our service-driven resort infrastructure is propped up by the ‘quiet force’ of immigrant workers, and our tourism sector is dependent upon a strong national economy.
The Trump administration reportedly estimates the shutdown will subtract .1 percentage point of growth from GDP for every week the government remains closed for business.
‘We estimate (the shutdown) will reduce first quarter real GDP growth by approximately .5 percentage points,’ Economist Mark Zandi wrote in a research report. ‘Of this, about half will be due to the lost hours of government workers, and the other half to the hit to the rest of the economy.’
We’re glad the current iteration of the government shutdown is past us and the government is reopened for business until Friday, Feb. 15. It is time we move past political platitudes and posturing on both sides of the aisle and work together to find permanent solutions to keeping the system operational. Our economy depends on it.”
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.
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