On Fox Business, Portman Highlights New PSI Report on the $4 Billion Cost of Recent Government Shutdowns, Need to Pass USMCA

September 17, 2019 | Portman Difference

In an interview with Fox Business’ Varney & Company this morning, Senator Portman discussed his new bipartisan report he unveiled this morning as Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that documents the $4 billion cost to American taxpayers of the last three government shutdowns and the impacts they had on the economy and core government functions.  He also voiced optimism about the prospects of the House and Senate passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement this year.  

Excerpts of his interview can be found below and a video can be found here:

PORTMAN ON NEW PSI REPORT HIGHLIGHTING COST OF GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWNS

“These government shutdowns are stupid and I think everybody realizes that now but what we wanted to do is put some numbers to it, so we did a nine-month investigation, got all the agencies to tell us how many lost hours there were, 500 million lost hours of productivity, what the cost was to taxpayers. The biggest cost, of course, is although people are furloughed during a shutdown, they are then paid after a shutdown even though they were not working during the shutdown. That’s about $4 billion to the taxpayers and that is not the worst of it. There were a bunch of agencies that couldn’t tell us. They didn’t know, they hadn’t made the calculation. So, it is even worse than that.

“Well here’s another data point that they won’t like, and maybe they should have reacted more negatively because of this, economic growth in the first quarter was three percent, now revised. Should have been 3.5 percent. There should have been a 0.4 percent or 0.5 percent increase in GDP growth. That is huge. It does affect the economy in negative ways. You have to look at this and say, ‘Why does Washington continue to get in these situations?’ Because the reason it happens of course is we’re not doing our work, not doing annual appropriations bills. A lot of that is partisan gridlock. We haven’t, since 1997, done all the 12 spending bills on time, so then you do a short-term continuing resolution. That gets hung up and you end up sometimes shutting down the government. So not a good way to do business.”

PORTMAN ON IMPORTANCE OF PASSING THE USMCA

“You are absolutely right and by the way, this is what you would call a no-brainer when you compare USMCA to the status quo which is NAFTA. It is better in every respect. It’s better for the economy, GDP growth, by the way, is projected to be more than it would have been had we done the Trans-Pacific Partnership that you remember a lot of Democrats thought we should have done. This is even bigger GDP growth. They are our two biggest trading partners, Mexico and Canada together, and it has environmental standards that are enforceable, labor standards that are enforceable. Those are not in the existing agreement. It actually has a minimum wage for autoworkers for 40 to 45 percent of the production which would help our auto jobs here which is why the International Trade Commission says it’s going to result in thousands of more auto jobs in America. This is all good stuff. It’s something if the Speaker took it to the floor for a vote, which she could, again not spending as much time on investigations and more on policy, I think it would pass. It is too logical, even in this town people would understand, here’s the status quo and here’s a better agreement.

“The logic, it is so obvious here, by the way, there are Democrats who have been against NAFTA from the start. Some like Nancy Pelosi have practically made their career on attacking NAFTA so that is the alternative, that is the status quo. If you are voting against USMCA or don’t want it to come up, you are in effect saying NAFTA is fine. And that’s not where most Democrats have been over the years. My hope is that logic will prevail and we will get this done. It will help with regard to the China negotiations and also helps our farmers which is why thousands of ag groups are for this because they want these new markets and it does open new markets across the board for American farmers.”

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