With just a few days left before his 100-day milestone on April 29th, President Donald Trump has been throwing a temper tantrum, threatening to shut down the government unless he gets his way. He has seized upon the April 28th deadline to fund the government in an effort to build his monument to racism border wall. Trump’s hardball tactics first started a few weeks ago, when he said he would refuse to pay subsidies that help people afford health insurance purchased on the ACA exchanges unless Democrats help fund his border wall and a larger “deportation force.” Trump then hinted that he would shut down the government unless Congress funds his wall. Recently, he said he would settle for paying for more drones or other border security, but has continued to fight against paying health insurance subsidies.
Regardless of what new ransom note Trump wants to tweet next or whether he may actually decide against holding the government hostage to fund his wall, the basic functioning of our government should not be a bargaining tool for him. Instead, the American people—women, men, families of all kinds—for whom Trump works should be able to count on the government being open, operational, and ready to serve them. Holding the government hostage in order to demand extreme policy concessions opposed by the majority of Americans is not just immature, irresponsible, and unpresidential, but shows a complete disregard for the needs of women and families who would be particularly harmed by a shutdown.
We need look no further than the last federal government shutdown, in October 2013, to see what the impact of a shutdown would be. The last time around, many programs for low-income families were unfunded and unable to provide help to families who desperately needed it. These programs included:
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which provides low-income women, infants, and young children with services and food;
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, which provides cash assistance, work supports, and other services to low-income families;
- Head Start, which provides pre-K and other developmental services to children from low-income families;
- Meals on Wheels, which provides meals to seniors and those too sick to leave their homes; and
- Violence Against Women Act grants, which fund most rape crisis and domestic violence centers.
The 2013 government shutdown also cost American taxpayers nearly $1.5 billion each day. Over 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, and the halt of federal funds also resulted in furloughs at the state and local levels. Because of the timing of this shutdown, over $8 billion in tax refunds for many families would also be delayed.
American families can’t afford another shutdown and we deserve a government that works for all of us. What we need is a President and a Congress that focus on strengthening the economic security of women and families. We need responsible and sensible tax policies that help those who need it the most. We need real child care policies that help families afford care, improve the quality of care, and support our caregiving workforce. We need affordable, comprehensive health care coverage for women and families. We need to remove barriers to educational success for girls. What we don’t need is our president theatening to shut down our government to build an unnecessary wall along our border.