According to Standard & Poor’s, the cost of the 16-day federal government shutdown was $24 billion. Twenty-four billion dollars!
Twenty-four billion dollars can make a huge difference to cities and the people who live in them. To drive home the point, I’d like to show you how that same $24 billion could be spent over the next twelve months to help low-income and poor Americans. The following numbers are each program’s annual appropriations (numbers are rounded) under the current continuing resolution.
- Promise Zones to ensure that a broad range of federal programs are coordinated to improve the living conditions within some of the nation’s poorest communities: $0.7 billion
- Clean Air programs to ensure communities have clean air: $1.0 billion
- Clean Water programs to ensure safe drinking water: $2.0 billion
- Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) to fund community action programs that work to reduce poverty: $0.7 billion
- Homeless Assistance Grants to help localities pay for housing for homeless individuals: $1.9 billion
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program to help low-income pay for heating and cooling: $3.0 billion
- Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program to fund services and activities addressing employment, education, better use of available income, housing, nutrition, emergency services and/or health for low income individuals : $1.7 billion
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to help cities improve infrastructure or redevelop low- and moderate-income neighborhoods: $3.0 billion
- Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs to help low income adults, dislocated workers and young people train for and find employment: $3.0 billion
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program for low-income children and their mothers: $7.0 billion
Instead, Congress wasted $24 billion shutting the government down, furloughing hundreds of thousands of workers, forcing another million to work without pay (until a budget agreement was reached), and hurting small and large businesses across the country. And the deal Congress reached yesterday only funds the government through January 15. What will the next potential shutdown cost us?
About the author: Neil Bomberg is NLC’s Program Director for Human Development. Through Federal Advocacy, he lobbies on behalf of cities around education, workforce development, health care, welfare, and pensions. Follow Neil on Twitter at @neilbomberg.