Is the mainstream media overhyping the economic impact of the government shutdown for political purposes? Of course they are. Once upon a time the mainstream media in the United States at least attempted to maintain a facade of objectivity, but those days are long gone. In this case, they want to stir up as much public resentment against President Trump as possible in order to try to force him to end the government shutdown. And when NBC News breathlessly declared that the U.S. “would face an economic hellscape” if this shutdown stretches on for an extended period of time, their article quickly went viral all over the Internet.
In just a few days, this will officially be the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, and there is no end in sight. President Trump is pledging that he will not sign any spending bill unless it includes funding for a border wall, and the Democrats are promising their supporters that they will never agree to a single penny for a wall. This could be the confrontation that ends up defining Trump’s presidency, and whoever backs down now is going to look incredibly weak. But the longer this shutdown lasts, the more painful things are going to become for the hundreds of thousands of federal workers that are going without pay, and for the hundreds of thousands of workers that are employed by government contractors that rely on business from the federal government.
According to the Department of Agriculture, if this government shutdown stretches into February there won’t be money for food stamps. And it certainly looks like this shutdown could last for quite a while, because President Trump is not backing down on his demand for border wall funding, and the Democrats have pledged not to give him a single penny. So a few weeks from now, approximately 38 million people could be suddenly cut off from the food stamp program. If that scenario were to unfold, there is no telling what could happen. After just a few days, government workers are already freaking out about having their paychecks delayed. If people are getting this restless already, what will things look like when tens of millions of Americans are suddenly cut off from their primary source of food money?
Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism “is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”. As you will see below, the combined enrollment in America’s four largest safety net programs has reached a staggering 236 million. Of course that doesn’t mean that 236 million people are getting benefits from the government each month because there is overlap between the various programs. For example, many Americans that are on Medicaid are also on food stamps, and many Americans that are on Medicare are also on Social Security. But even accounting for that, most experts estimate that the number of Americans that are dependent on the federal government month after month is well over 100 million. And now that so many people are addicted to government handouts, can we ever return to a culture of independence and self-sufficiency?
The federal government paid $2,007,358,200,000 in benefits and entitlements in fiscal year 2013 from government programs, according to data from the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s Monthly Treasury Statement.
Currently, around 6 million to 7 million Americans who have signed up for Obamacare are receiving taxpayer-provided subsidies (though the administration’s numbers cannot be trusted, it’s all we have to work with). There are another 3 million who have signed up for Medicaid.