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Shutdown ends, but employers feel impact

LA CROSSE, WI - The federal shutdown may be over, but its impact is far from fleeting.

Aside from the estimated $24 billion in damage it's done to the U.S. economy, the government shutdown and following debt ceiling crisis has left a bad taste in the mouths of local businesses and their customers.

Dan Wettstein, owner of Wettstein Appliances, said he's had enough of the political gridlock seen in Washington, D.C. this October.

"It's very frustrating being in business and to have this come up every four to six months," he said.

As a business owner, Wettstein is no stranger to wheeling and dealing - compromise is something he reaches daily with customers looking to buy household furniture. But he said it's not a compromise that Congress appears to be able to grasp.

"I'd love them to come and experience what you and I are experiencing, right here, right now, right on Main Street," he said.

Wettstein is hoping consumer confidence won't dip along with crises in Congress, especially with the upcoming holiday season. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse economics professor Mike Haubert said that isn't likely - the federal shutdown had little impact on financial markets, and probably won't affect consumer choices come Christmas.


Although that sounds like good news, Haubert said it may be a sign that people have become all too familiar with dysfunction in D.C.

"And that could be the long-term problem, that people lose confidence in Congress' ability to actually do its job," Haubert said.

Rep. Ron Kind said he understands his constituents' anger, adding he hopes Congress learned its lesson this October and won't come to another political impasse in February, when the debt ceiling is reached again. Haubert, though, isn't holding his breath.

"[Congress] simply made an agreement to push it off, kick that can down the road for a few months, and we're like to see this happen again in a few months," he said. "And the more frequently we do this, the more often we come to this problem, the less confidence people will have."

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