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The National Retail Federation has called on both Congress and the Obama Administration to move past their intransigent positions on the budget and pass a funding bill so that federal employees and contractors can return to work.
“We strongly support passage of both a continuing resolution to provide for funding of the federal government into the next fiscal year and a measure to raise the nation’s debt ceiling,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NRF, wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.
Shay noted indicators that the government shutdown has already negatively affected consumer spending and caused consumer confidence to plunge to levels unseen since the 2008 economic meltdown.
“For retailers – who represent the sector of the American economy most closely tied to consumer attitudes – these numbers are deeply disturbing,” Shay said. “Moreover, since the very modest growth the U.S. economy has experienced following the 2008 recession has been attributed to the willingness of the American consumer to keep shopping, a lasting decline in consumer confidence is likely to translate into increased unemployment and slower growth in coming months.”
Shay additionally highlighted the practical problems retailers have encountered since the shutdown began, from a dearth of economic data and reports to concerns over the processing of imported merchandise.
“Washington can’t keep governing from crisis to crisis and quarter to quarter,” Shay asserted. “Kicking the can down the road may be the norm these days in Washington, but it is an irresponsible approach to the problems confronting our nation. …We need leadership from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue on the key issues facing our country, particularly policies that put the economy on a firm footing for long-term growth.”
Shay encouraged President Obama and Congress to negotiate an end to the government shutdown through the implementation of such policies as comprehensive tax reform, new trade programs and entitlement reform.
“It’s time for Congress to get our government back to work – and time for Congress itself to get back to work on building a strong, stable national economy that will restore the United States to its rightful place as the leader of the global economy,” concluded Shay.
Going forward, NRF plans to work with retailers and small-business owners in its efforts to rally members and grass-roots advocates around its call for the shutdown to end.