January 18, 2018

Helpful, not hopeful, information from Ali Velshi. Transcript:

STEPHANIE RUHLE: I'm ready to bet you $2. It is a dangerous time to play chicken, but President Trump, there's one thing he's not afraid of, he's not afraid to play chicken. If he plays his hand this way, he's going to make Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan look like turkeys. In the last hour, I've watched the segment with evangelicals who voted for Trump who say they believe he exceeded their expectations but don't like how he behaves. They referenced what he said, i.e., the racial slurs in the Oval Office last week. But if President Trump swoops in, gets this done tomorrow, they will be able to say, "All that is just words. He's a guy who means business and can get things done." He'll tip his hat and say, "I got it done, what Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan couldn't." He'll leave Washington and be teeing off at Mar-a-Lago by Saturday.

ALI VELSHI: The problem is, having covered a couple government shutdowns, the last-minute things always go to the 11th hour. The last two went beyond the 11th hour. There's a lot of logistics. Look, I would take the bet, except I don't want to be on the -- I don't want to bet on a government shutdown. I think it is a serious matter. Let me tell you why.

RUHLE: Very serious.

VELSHI: A lot of people don't care because they don't really know what happens when the government shuts down. Let's talk about it for a second. If the government doesn't approve an appropriations bill, a spending bill, which I like to remind people is the only constitutional requirement for Congress. Congress doesn't have to do anything else. It doesn't name post offices. It has to pass appropriations bills. Federal employees who are considered non-essential would not go to work. That means they're out until Congress approves a funding bill. At the height of the last shutdown in 2013, that's 850,000 federal workers off the job each day. That one lasted a little more than two weeks. They are actually hard to fix, these things. National parks, you know this, government offices, certain programs are going to be without staff and unable to open. Visa and passport processing would stop in its tracks. New experimental treatments at the national department of health would be on hold. The IRS and Federal Housing Administration workers would be furloughed. Not everything shuts down. Some government workers have to stick around because they're considered essential for national security and public safety. That's why this is called a partial government shutdown. Military personnel, law enforcement personnel, TSA screeners, doctors who work for government agencies are all going to have to come to work. But the essential employees, here's the rub, are going to be working without a paycheck until Congress authorizes the funding. In 2013, Congress passed a law to keep military personnel and civilian defense workers paid during the shutdown, but that law has expired. Congress, in failing to extend -- to get the continuing resolution, would have to pass a new law to keep paychecks going to the military. Some services with independent revenue streams would keep going. Social security and Medicare checks, they're separate systems, they would continue to be mailed out. The post office would continue operating because it is on a different budget. Federal courts would actually remain open. They face some interruptions because there are some non-essential federal workers in courts. So it is a remarkably disruptive thing, but from an economic perspective, let's put it this way, we agree, despite the fact President Trump says we don't talk about this, we agree, the economy is doing well. Unemployment is really low. The stock market is really high. Corporate profitability is doing well. Americans are thinking very like a runner who has been gaining speed and all of a sudden, right when they've caught their stride, the government sticks its foot out and trips them. This is dangerous. This is the kind of thing that could have little impact, but like not extending the debt ceiling, it would have a lot of impact.

RUHLE: It makes Americans angry. Many people believe it is costly political theater. Theater that doesn't help anyone.

VELSHI: Right.

RUHLE: To your point, with the economy doing so well, with wins under our belt -- why do it?

VELSHI: In the business world, when there are disagreements and things companies can't figure out, we don't do this. People don't shut down. They don't say, despite you all, we're just not going to do things. We're going to stop running the business for a few days.

RUHLE: Ali Velshi, this is one of the reasons people voted for President Trump.

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