On Friday, Donald Trump said: “We are totally prepared for a very long shutdown.” It was one of his rare uses of the pronoun “we” instead of his preferred – and in this case far more appropriate – “I”.
The shutdown is indubitably his. Congress offered him a way to continue funding the government without the money to build his nonsensical wall along the Mexican border, but Trump caved in to the rabid rightwing media and refused.
I was in Bill Clinton’s cabinet when Newt Gingrich pulled the plug on the federal government in 1996. It wasn’t a pretty picture. A long shutdown hurts millions of people who rely on government for services and paychecks.
Trump’s shutdown also adds to growing worries about the economy. The stock market is on track for the worst December since the Great Depression. World markets have lost nearly $7tn in 2018, making it the worst year since the 2008 financial crisis.
The shutdown is stoking fears that Trump could do something even more alarming. He might fail to authorize an increase in government borrowing before the federal debt reaches the current limit, which Congress extended to 2 March. A default by the US on its obligations would be more calamitous than a government shutdown.