The country would face an economic hellscape if the government shutdown lasts “months or even years,” as the president has suggested it might, experts tell NBC News.
The doomsday scenario might be unlikely — the longest the federal government has ever shut down is 21 days, a record that will fall if the current closure lasts until Saturday — but it is chilling.
“We’ll be in no man’s land,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told NBC News.
If the worst were to happen, experts say the devastating impact would be widespread:
- 38 million low-income Americans lose food stamps
- 6 million face an uncertain timetable for collecting tax refunds
- 2 million without rental assistance and facing possible eviction
- 800,000 paycheck-less federal employees plunged into dire financial straits
- Shuttered parks and museums while overstressed airports cause tourism to tank
- Federal court system slows to a crawl
- Disaster relief money doesn’t get to storm-ravaged areas
- Lapsed FDA and EPA inspections lead to dangerous outbreaks
- Private companies looking to go public are stuck in limbo
- Stock market plummets
The end isn’t near — yet. But if the standoff persists — talks blew up at the White House on Wednesday — and Congress and President Donald Trump can’t reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling in a few months, “it’s game over — you’ll have a pretty severe recession,” Zandi said, adding that given the trade war with China, and Brexit looming, “you could start seeing some pretty dark scenarios” worldwide.
WITHOUT FOOD, HOMES
By the end of February, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, run by the Department of Agriculture, would be out of funding — meaning almost 40 million low-income Americans could find themselves struggling to pay for food, said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for the accounting firm RSM US.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, meanwhile, has already seen 1,150 contracts with private landlords housing low-income tenants lapse. Another 500 will expire by the end of this month, and another 550 by the end of February, the agency says.
Funding for rental assistance for millions of tenants could be at risk as soon as next month.
“The near-term impact is people getting evicted, having their heat turned off and not having enough food,” Brusuelas said.