Disruptor-in-Chief

President Trump is “a disruptor and a breaker of political norms that need to be broken,” Ben Boychuk writes approvingly as an historic stalemate between Congress and the White House festers (“Some best
possible outcomes of the partial shutdown. Since December 22, 800,000 members of the federal labor force are unpaid.

Joining them without paychecks are 4 million federal contractors.

In brief, the impacts of four million uncompensated contractors and 800,000 federal employees without pay disrupt, economically speaking. That narrow focus omits the human stress, with the related harmful impacts on mental and physical health to working folks experiencing dire conditions of surviving with no money in a capitalist society.

To return to the so-called dismal science of economics, one needs no Ph.D. in the field to see why the shutdown is disruptive. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy. Think about that.

Trump is in effect removing money from the national economy. Economic contractions, recessions, do the same thing.

Yes, that is disruptive. Recall that the Great Recession began in the U.S. and spread globally a decade ago. That was a disruptive process, the worst downturn since the dark days and nights of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Trump is flirting with a shutdown-induced contraction of the national economy and abroad. The shutdown arrives on the heels of the China-U.S. trade tariff escalation. That is in part shaving growth from the Chinese economy. It is a part of not apart from the U.S. economy, from exports to imports and finance. The alarm bells are ringing.

Increasingly, analysts fret over the shutdown cutting gross domestic product (GDP), or economic growth, as household spending drops due to the lost buying power of 4.8 million unpaid federal contractors and
employees. The International Business Times is reporting predictions that first-quarter GDP, depending on the length of the federal shutdown, will decline from 0.6 percentage points to 1.5 percent.

Wait. How will we know? The Bureau of Economic Analysis, which collects GDP data, is closed. Why? The BEA is part of the U.S. Commerce Department, which lacks federal funding to operate fully
under the shutdown.

“Political norms” that the president disrupts have real-life economic consequences. Once they begin all bets are off on ending them. Trump lacks that big-picture understanding. Such a disruptor in chief is a
negative thing.

What is my advice? Be afraid. I am.

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Email sethsandronsky@gmail.com

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