9/25/2013 6:30 PM ET|
What a shutdown really means
With no deal in the offing to pay the government’s bills beyond midnight Sept. 30, much of the federal government could begin to shut down when the new fiscal year starts next Tuesday.
As President Obama and congressional Republicans move dangerously close to a government shutdown early next week, it's time to take stock of how a shutdown would affect federal workers, the military, government contractors and average Americans reliant on government programs and benefits.
The last two government shutdowns -- in late 1995 and early 1996 -- were chaotic for federal workers, posed major inconveniences for the public, and prompted a political backlash against Republicans who controlled the House and Senate at the time.
This time may be different. Americans today are almost equally divided over the issue of culpability -- with 39% saying they would blame the Republicans and 36 percent saying they would blame the Obama administration, according to a study released today from the Pew Research Center.
The dispute, this time, is over congressional Republicans' attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act as part of a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government operating through Dec. 15.
With no deal in the offing between the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic Senate and the White House to pay the government's bills beyond midnight Sept. 30, much of the federal government could begin to shut down when the new fiscal year starts next Tuesday.
Here are the nine most important things to keep in mind as the first government shutdown in 17 years approaches:
$150 million a day. That's the price-tag to taxpayers for closing down the government. In 1995, the record three-week closing cost a $1.25 billion or $1.9 billion in today's dollars.
A shutdown would not block Obamacare. House and Senate Republicans say they are willing to go to the mat to defund the Affordable Care Act. But Obamacare is essentially an entitlement program with mandatory spending. This means that -- short of enacting legislation to repeal or sideline the new health care law -- most of its funding is beyond the reach of a continuing resolution or CR, which relates to discretionary spending.
So, for example, the money for tax credits and Medicaid expansion would arrive on schedule. State and federal exchanges would still operate. The individual mandate would still be in place. The CR approved by the House last Friday avoids this trap by approving the text of a bill that would sideline Obamacare. Yet that measure will die in the Senate.
Uncle Sam would limp along but not collapse. Many federal agencies are deemed essential to protect life and property, or to provide benefit payments. These agencies would be allowed to operate, although their workers could not draw a salary -- at least not immediately.
In the past, that has meant that employees involved with border and coastal security, protection of federal lands and buildings, the care of prisoners, law enforcement and criminal investigations, emergency and disaster assistance, the Treasury and financial system and maintenance of the power grid, were all kept on.
But plenty of services would disappear. The last government shutdowns were grim times for federal workers, with about 800,000 being furloughed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention halted disease surveillance. Toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites was halted. And while zookeepers continued to feed the pandas, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., was closed to the public. So was the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and 368 national park sites, which resulted in the loss of some seven million visitors.
With non-essential workers on furlough, 200,000 applications for passports went unprocessed. U.S. tourism and airline industries incurred millions of dollars in losses; and more than 20 percent of federal contracts, representing $3.7 billion in spending, were affected adversely.
Social security benefits would keep flowing. Social Security is a mandatory program that would continue during a shutdown, but the entire system would be gunked up. During the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, claims from 112,000 Social Security applicants went unprocessed, 212,000 Social Security cards were not issued and 800,000 toll-free calls for information went unanswered.
You'd still get mail. The U.S. Postal Service is an independent agency and doesn't directly receive revenues from the Treasury, so it will continue deliveries through sleet, snow, rain and government shutdowns.
Many federal employees and contractors would work for no pay. According to an OMB advisory memo to agencies last week, employees who stay on the job would not get a paycheck at first. But they would be entitled to retroactive pay once the government is running again. This includes all military personnel.
The situation is much less clear regarding nonessential employees. They would have to come to the office on the first day of a shutdown to secure files, fill out time and attendance forms and "otherwise make preparations to preserve their work," according to the OMB.
Contractors won't get paid on time. Federal contractors would likely have to push back project deadlines, because the agencies that hired them wouldn't be able to issue the necessary paperwork.
Garbage would pile up. Congress would heap one more indignity on the District of Columbia if there's a shutdown. The city's trash collectors would be furloughed, along with other D.C. workers whose operating budgets are approved by Congress. That's going to be a messy situation, since D.C. produces about 500 tons of garbage each week, according to The Washington Post.
More from The Fiscal Times
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Wouldn't it be great if Congress got off their lazy rumps and passed appropriation bills before September 30 - AS REQUIRED BY LAW (Budget Reform Act of 1974). Then no Continuing Resolution (CRA) would be needed. But then the Senate has not passed a budget for about five years. What a bunch of overpaid juveniles......they take their pay under false pretenses......that is, for work that they do not do.
One rule to remember... If you don't vote you can't bitch. I know a lot of people don't think their vote counts but it does in the long run. If you bitch to your congressman or senator the first thing their aides do is check the voting logs. Are you registered? Did you vote? If you aren't and don't they could care less about your complaint. If you are and do well then you ARE a constituent and they will give some heed to your call. They don't waste time money or energy on non-voters...they don't count.
As for me...I think its time for a full blown shutdown, big and bad enough to make every American sit up and take notice. Perhaps then the 2nd Tax Revolution can start and we can retake our country from the morons who are running it into the ground now.
Not another cent in Foreign Aid until our National Debt is retired, when we have surpluses we will be glad to help. We are bankrupting our country trying to save the world....our cookie jar is not big enough!!!
Feed and house our own citizens first and send the leftovers overseas.
Billions to blow a country to hell and even more billions to rebuild it....it is oxymoronic. Rebuild our infrastructure first.
Return our troops from overseas and have them guard our borders and keep the illegals OUT!!! Stop granting automatic citizenship to children born in the USA to illegal immigrant parents. It's how they beat our system. If you are born here you are a US citizen, but not being of age your illegally immigrated parents can use the system to get you the benefits you are entitled to as a citizen and use them to their benefit. That is an immigration loophole that needs CLOSED NOW!!!!
Finally stop all pay to the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government when they fail to meet budget deadlines. Dismiss the staffs and have these overpaid underwork congressional reps and senators do the work. No Budget, no Franking privileges, no free rides on Gov't aircraft, fly home coach like every other working stiff in America. Cut out all their perks and privileges until a budget is passed. Make 'em work and make 'em bleed. Can't take the heat...get out of the kitchen and give someone with an ounce of commonsense a shot.
Get it together or the taxpayers will close their purses and all of us will go on welfare and the dole. What ya gonna do then Congress? We are all broke, no jobs, no taxes coming in and you have a WHOLE nation to care for?! What's it gonna be BOZOS?!
My heart goes out to all of you.
Unfortunately we must educate ourselves to what the left ruling class is doing.
John Maynard Keynes said it best:
"There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."
Make no mistake, they are going to run this thing off the cliff.
As we spiral to the abyss their power grows.
They care not about you or this country.
I'm sick and tired of hearing about our Great American Way now. IT's apparently falling apart like all previously GREAT HISTORICAL Empires. DEADLOCK at the top; GUN BATTLES and murders on every street at the bottom. What's left?
I'm sick and tired of the Congress in Washington, and I' beginning to be ashamed to say I live in the state of TEXAS!!!! I used to be really Proud of both.
NEWLY PROPOSED WASHINGTON D.C. GARBAGE COLLECTION SITE STARTING NEXT WEEK:
1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE.
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