As the federal government enters its first shutdown in 17 years on Tuesday, the airwaves and the Internet are full of punditry on its pitfalls and downsides.
Ever the optimists, we found five reasons to look forward to the shutdown.
1. Food and drink promotions around town.
Buy one drink and get one free at DC Reynolds bar from 11 AM to 9 PM every day of the government shutdown!
That’s just one of the many food and drink promotions that DC establishments are offering while Congress works on a deal to fund the federal government.
Unlike the DC Reynolds special, most deals are only available to furloughed government employees, who can get free burgers at Z-Burger, free cupcakes at Sprinkles, and free pulled pork sandwiches at Pork Barrel BBQ.
Carmine’s is offering any one of its eight private dining rooms to President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), should they decide to hammer out a deal to end the shutdown.
2. Riding Metro has never been more enjoyable.
— Danielle Fisher (@DEFinitelyfishy) October 1, 2013
Washington, D.C., residents took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to celebrate their morning Metro commutes. Normally a nightmarish experience, rush hour on DC’s public transit system was more relaxing than usual.
Sign of shutdown: Metro really, really uncrowded between Metro Center and Capitol South. And this is rush hour.
— SteveKoff (@SteveKoff) October 1, 2013
Wow. Getting a seat on the DC metro at rush hour is a snap. #shutdown
— Sheryl Harris (@consumerwriter) October 1, 2013
3. More business for Washington’s private tourism attractions.
Smithsonian museums, the National Gallery, and the National Mall are all closed during the shutdown.
But that could steer plenty of tourism dollars to DC’s many private attractions, including the Newseum, the Spy Museum, and George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, which is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.
4. Even more melodramatic floor speeches and press appearances by members of Congress.
Grandstanding is a prerequisite for members of Congress, and the shutdown will provide an opportunity for some highly entertaining pontification.
Rep. John Larson (D., Conn.) reached fever pitch during a speech on the House floor on Monday. “Do you stand with your country? Do you stand for your country? Or do you want to take it down this evening?” he screamed. “Stand up for your country!”
The speeches are likely to continue, providing plenty of fodder for cable news and keeping the country entertained until a government funding agreement is reached.
5. The American economy boomed during the last government shutdown.
Tim Cavanaugh lays out the case for economic optimism during the shutdown at the Daily Caller:
Although the spending gaps that occurred from November 1995 to January 1996 are depicted almost unanimously by politicians and the establishment media as disasters for the United States, in fact the so-called shutdowns, during which a portion of government spending was temporarily reduced, did no discernible damage to the American economy, and may have boosted the financial well-being of the American people. […]
[Washington University economist Mark] Vaughn notes that the economy as a whole is much weaker in the Obama era than it was in the Clinton era.
“Still,” he told TheDC, “I think the lesson is — don’t bet on a large negative effect of a shutdown.”