The real cost of Trump's ongoing government shutdown
A closer look at the day's most notable stories
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- A look at what the partial U.S. government shutdown could cost Americans as it drags on into another week.
- Big Juice may get squeezed out as Canadians opt for healthier options and the new Canada Food Guide is set to recommend water instead of juice.
- Missed The National last night? Watch it here.
The U.S. government shutdown by the numbers
Large portions of the U.S. government have now been shut down for 16 days, leaving some 800,000 federal employees sitting at home without pay and affecting everything from national parks to airport security screenings and farm subsidy programs.
As of today, the partial shutdown — the 21st since the American government changed how it funds its services in 1976 — now ranks as the third longest, tied with an October 2013 fight between Barack Obama and Congress over the Affordable Care Act.
And it seems almost inevitable that the dispute will surpass the 18-day Jimmy Carter stoppage in 1978 and perhaps even smash the 21-day record established during a 1995 scrap between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich over Republican spending cuts.
U.S. President Donald Trump's desire to take the blame for the fight over funding for his promised wall along the Mexican border seems to have changed — he now routinely refers to it as a Democratic Party ploy. But there has been precious little movement toward a solution.
Here's a look at some of the numbers (all amounts in U.S. dollars) underpinning the shutdown:
- $5.7 billion — the amount that Trump is demanding to begin construction of what is now envisioned as a "steel barrier" along a 376.5 km stretch of the southwest border.
- 3,111 km — the actual length of the U.S.-Mexico frontier.
- $8 billion to $70 billion — the range of cost estimates for completing the full length of the wall (based mostly on a concrete construction).
- $15 billion to $20 billion — what the U.S. president suggested it would cost during a rally in Kansas City last month, down from $25 billion a year ago.
- $7.563 billion — the total amount of additional border security funding that the Trump administration demanded in a letter to congressional Democrats yesterday. The laundry list includes $563 million for immigration judges, $798 million to support a total of 52,000 "detention beds" and $800 million to address the "urgent humanitarian needs" of those being taken into custody.
- 7 — the number of people who have died in accidents in now unsupervised national parks since the shutdown began on Dec. 22.
- 1,500 — the number of letters that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sent to U.S. landlords late last week after it realized that funding for a program that helps pay the rent for thousands of vulnerable people is no longer in place and they are facing eviction.
- 38 million — the number of food stamp users who could face empty fridges if the shutdown drags on until the end of the month.
- $140 billion — the value of tax refund cheques that may not get processed because the Internal Revenue Service has sent home 90 per cent of its employees.
- $24 billion — the estimated cost of the 16-day, 2013 shutdown to the U.S. economy.
- $0 — the net savings to U.S. taxpayers from that Obama-era dispute, since the federal employees all received back pay for the days they were off work once the government resumed operations.
- 0.1293 per cent — Trump's border wall ask as a portion of the $4.407 trillion 2019 U.S. federal budget.
- 17 per cent — the 2018 increase to the U.S. budget deficit following Trump's wide-ranging corporate tax cuts.
- $1 trillion — the estimated U.S. budget deficit for fiscal year 2019.
- "In excess of 10 BILLION DOLLARS" — what Trump claimed as his net worth during the 2016 election campaign.
- $3.1 billion — his actual net worth, according to Forbes magazine, down from $4.5 billion in 2015.
- 259 — Donald Trump's current ranking on the list of the wealthiest people in the United States.
Big Juice feels the squeeze
The juice industry in Canada is under pressure as consumers push back against high-sugar beverages, CBC News reporter David Common writes.
For decades the Canada Food Guide has led consumer's shopping and meal habits, dictating what's healthy and in what quantities. Federal scientists deemed a half glass of juice was the equivalent of eating a piece of fruit, for example.
But consumers aren't buying that any more. Following the backlash against high-sugar pops, consumers turned their attention to conventional fruit and vegetable juices.
Now the government's scientists are about to rewrite the role of juice. It seems the food guide is following Canadians who are increasingly turning away from the high levels of natural sugars in juice.
Health Canada, which releases a new food guide this year, has been relatively secretive in its deliberations, intent on avoiding undue industry influence. In a short statement, it says the new "proposed recommendations are for plain water as the beverage of choice to help reduce sugars intake."
"A significant share of Canadians already disassociate juice as having the same benefits as fruit," Joel Gregoire, a market analyst with Mintel, told us. "If you look over time, attitudes towards sugar have hardened."
That's playing out in sales. Juice consumption is down 15 per cent in Canada since 2011. The industry is facing a major challenge, and the response is coming on two fronts.
The first is a pushback. The Canadian Beverage Association – funded by Coca-Cola (which owns Minute Maid, Simply and Five Alive) and Pepsi (owners of Tropicana, Dole and Ocean Spray), among others – is lobbying federal ministers, political staff and bureaucrats. A Globe and Mail investigation cited at least 50 in-person meetings since October 2017.
That same article uncovered a letter written by the president of Lassonde, which is behind the Allen's, Oasis and Del Monte brands in Canada. It warned juice in Canada is "under threat" and that removing it from the food guide would create "unintended consequences."
While the lobbying efforts continue, juice makers are opening a second front with changes to their product designs.
Tea, for instance, retains a health halo among consumers so some brands are now mixing their fruit juices with tea. Others have shifted to "premiumization" by making smoothies or products enriched with other ingredients such as kombucha.
While juices contain larger quantities of natural sugars, they're also rich in vitamins. Marketers are likely to push those benefits, especially as a quick vitamin infusion for on-the-go consumers.
It's all putting the squeeze on Big Juice. But it's not as if Canadians have turned away completely. The business is still worth $2 billion a year, a massive market segment with plenty of exposure in grocery stores – and beyond.
- WATCH: David Common's story about juice marketing tonight on The National on CBC Television and streamed online.
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A few words on ...
Getting lost in the snow — for fun.
Quote of the moment
"Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role."
-Christian Bale, accepting the best actor award for his portrayal of former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney in the new film Vice at last night's Golden Globe awards.
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Today in history
Jan. 7, 1982: 1982: Ralph Klein's bums and creeps
The rest of Canada was in a recession but oil-rich Alberta was booming. So much so, that 2,600 people a month were arriving in Calgary looking to cash in on the good life. The reality, however, was tougher than they imagined, with a zero per cent vacancy rate, and hostels overflowing. Some new arrivals turned to crime, which is why Mayor Ralph Klein made his famous pronouncement that his city didn't need the rest of the country's "bums and creeps." The remarks got a lot of media coverage, but strangely no one seemed that offended by his Trump-like statement in support of police brutality in this The National report. "If a bank robber from someplace else complains he got a bit roughed up by a police officer, I'm not going to get too upset about it," said Klein.
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