Here are 5 ways Trump's shutdown is increasingly endangering the American public

Here are 5 ways Trump's shutdown is increasingly endangering the American public
President Donald J. Trump arrives at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Maryland, en route Dover, Delaware. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

In trying to drum up support for his government shutdown, President Donald Trump has tried to convince the public that undocumented immigration presents a clear and present danger to the United States — despite the fact that it is low by historical standards — and that his proposed border wall will make Americans safer, which it won't.

And while he and the Republican Party hold the government hostage as leverage to get wall funding over a made-up problem, the cessation of vital federal services actually poses a serious threat to the lives and welfare of American citizens.

Here are five ways Trump's shutdown is endangering the country:

1. Air traffic control is being strained.

Without pay and proper resources, the employees of the country's air traffic control systems are facing increasing stressors of the job.

"It's the first time they've experienced a shutdown where they haven't gotten a check," Joel Ortiz, an air traffic controller and vice president of National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told NPR. "And morale is low. Stress is high. We are slowly seeing resignations come in across the country. The developmentals — or the new hires that were going to the academy — they've been sent home. Staffing is at an all-time low. So it's impacting the industry in more than one way."

Ortiz insisted it will still be safe to fly, but he noted "you're not getting the safety reporting. People aren't doing the quality assurance reports, quality control reports." While professionals will, of course, keep doing their jobs as best they can, strain on the system increases the likelihood of serious error.

2. The FBI says its lack of funding has reduced its ability to combat threats.

The bureau released a 72-page report Tuesday detailing the extent of the shutdown's effects on federal law enforcement.

According to agents in the field, efforts to reduce street gang violence, the risk of terrorist attacks, and narcotics trafficking have all been hampered. And some of the damage to these efforts will be longlasting.

"Not being able to pay confidential human sources risks losing them and the information they provide forever," one agent said. "It is not a switch that we can turn on and off."

3. Natural disaster preparations have been halted.

One of the most important functions of the federal government is preparing for natural disasters that can swamp a single state's resources. But under the shutdown, The Guardian reported, many of these services are stalled.

"Furloughed federal firefighters have been stopped from clearing brush in the forests, in areas that will be increasingly fire-prone when the seasons change," explained reporter Gabrielle Canon. "Agencies that typically work on risk mitigation, detection and relief are closed down."

4. We're risking a recession.

Many economists are warning that the shutdown, combined with other factors, is raising the risk of recession.

As Noah Smith explained, the massive number of workers losing out on pay and employment as a direct effect of the shutdown is bad enough. But the knock-on effects can be even worse in the long run:

If anxieties about the decline in demand due to the shutdown make companies even more reluctant to invest, the result could be that many businesses stampede for the exits. And since many businesses serve other businesses, a lack of investment could quickly ripple through the supply chain. A general slowdown in business activity would result, with the attendant layoffs, pay freezes and cuts — in other words, a recession.

Recessions are devastating to countries in countless ways. The increase in unemployment, fiscal uncertainty, lack of wage growth, and reduced investment can spread misery, hamper progress, and even increase suicides.

5. Native American communities are hit particularly hard.

The basic needs of these communities get neglected or go unmet as the lack of funding continues, as the AP explained:

Native American tribes rely heavily on funding guaranteed by treaties with the U.S., acts of Congress and other agreements for public safety, social services, education and health care for their members. Because of the shutdown, tribal officials say some programs are on the brink of collapse and others are surviving with tribes filling funding gaps.

About 9,000 Indian Health Service employees, or 60 percent, are working without pay and 35 percent are working with funding streams not affected by the shutdown, according to the Health and Human Services department’s shutdown plan. That includes staff providing direct care to patients. The agency delivers health care to about 2.2 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives.


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