The following blog is from Roxanne Johnson, Research Analyst with the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation
I read last week that the shutdown of the federal government cost the economy $24 billion. That’s a huge number! What does $24 billion even look like? (I am, of course, thinking of this.) I knew I wasn’t the only one asking what else we could have done with that money, so I looked around for some perspective. Here’s what I found.
Slate tells us that Congress could have spent that $24 billion on the following:
- 1.5 NASAs
- Every American could get 15 $5 Footlongs from Subway
- Paid for the damage of Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Frances combined
- Sent 1,078,119 kids to college in their home state
NBCNews.com gives us:
- The American Red Cross's total yearly operating expenses... multiplied by seven.
- 83 Boeing Dreamliner planes.
- 6,315 Super Bowl ads.
AL.com out of Alabama gives us some state-specific perspective:
- Sending everyone in Alabama 500 pounds of 16/20 count shrimp, headless, from the Gulf of Mexico.
- 7,092,198 years of Affordable Care Act coverage in Alabama.
These are all interesting, but I spend a lot of my time thinking about infrastructure (thinking, reading, writing, dreaming, obsessing…). So what occurred to me was with that $24 billion, we could have repaired a lot of America.
Below are some numbers I pulled together.
- Forty percent of the cost of necessary infrastructure repairs for the state of Minnesota (where I live) for the entire year; which could have created or maintained up to 866,000 jobs.
- According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the national highway-funding gap in 2010 was $63 billion. The $24 billion spent on a government shutdown could have funded forty percent of this gap, creating or maintaining up to 667,000 jobs.
- According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the existing deficiency for transit investment is $74 billion. The $24 billion spent on a government shutdown could have funded 32 percent of this gap, creating or maintaining up to 866,500 jobs.
- According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the drinking and wastewater capital spending gap in 2010 was $54.8 billion. The $24 billion spent on a government shutdown could have funded 44 percent of this gap, creating or maintaining up to 480,000 jobs.
This shutdown cost us $24 billion. It seems like an unfathomable (is that a word?) amount of money to me as an individual, but in terms of a three trillion dollar national budget I guess it’s just a tiny piece. Pretty sure that doesn’t justify wasting it, though.
 BlueGreen Alliance Minnesota Infrastructure Jobs Report (to be released, so stay tuned)