The $24 Billion Tantrum.

Following the Teapublican-caused government shutdown and threatened US default, it’s fair to look at what this pointless exercise cost us. Not including the human costs, economists at Standard & Poors estimate the cost of the government shutdown at $24 billion.

That’s larger than the entire annual budget for NASA ($17.8 billion) or the Department of the Interior ($13.5 billion). Put another way, it’s larger than the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency ($8.9 billion), the National Science Foundation ($7.5 billion), the Small Business Administration ($1.4 billion), the Corporation for National and Community Service ($1.1 billion) and the Disaster Relief Fund ($2 billion) combined.

It’s nearly double the annual revenue collected through the Estate and Gift Tax ($13 billion). It’s nearly half of the entire budget for Homeland Security. And, in more human terms, it would feed 1.6 million American families of four for an entire year!

Now imagine what would happen if Democrats proposed spending $24 billion to help the working poor or to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Teapublicans would cry, scream and hold their breath. They would fill the airwaves and the newspapers with paranoia. They would say that Democrats were mortgaging our children’s future. Yet they were willing to spend $24 billion on nothing…absolutely nothing.

Worse yet, 144 Teapublican Congressional Representatives and 18 Senators voted no on the bill to reopen the government and to prevent default! That’s 162 Teapublican votes to pour even more money down a rat hole. 162 votes to send the US government into default…risking a worldwide economic calamity!

And what might that have accomplished? Most economists feared that a failure to increase the debt ceiling would not only downgrade the rating of US bonds, it would create a collapse worse than the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009…maybe worse than the Great Depression. To put that into perspective, in a research paper for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, economists David Luttrell, Tyler Atkinson and Harvey Rosenblum calculated that the total cost of the Great Recession to the U.S. was on the order of $6 trillion to $14 trillion. The larger figure is roughly one full year of U.S. economic output and nearly equal to the entire federal debt!

Do you still think the Republican Party is the champion of fiscal responsibility?