With all the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle the American people need a non-partisan fact filled guide to the current shutdown. This way voters can become informed citizens and decide for themselves is this the end of the world or just politics as usual in Washington. Having this guide handy when receiving your dose of propaganda called “news” will help to sort the wheat from the chaff.
1) Why is the Government shut down? Before any agency can spend one dollar the money must be assigned to that agency. Sort agreeing to a price for goods and services provided by the agency. This is usually done when the President releases a budget which is voted on by the House and Senate. When the budget is rejected as each one of Obama’s have, the House creates its own for approval. The exception being 2009 and 2010 when the Democrat controlled House didn't bother. The Republican House budgets of 2011, 2012 and 2013 were all rejected by the Senate. Without an agreed upon spending limit, or budget only essential workers can remain on the job.
2) What is a CR? It is a Continuing Resolution or a temporary budget.These are not new in fact since 2001 it has been used 48 times to keep the doors open. It is an agreement to pay for agencies based upon the last time they had a budget. This allows departments not essential for the day to day operation of government to remain open.
3) Why is this time different than the other 47? One word answer is Obamacare. The Republican House has taken the President at his word that Obamacare would not cost one dime and each Continuing Resolution they send to the Senate contains no funding for Obamacare. The Democrat controlled Senate adds Obamacare back and returns it only to have it defeated. Hence no budget, no extra layers of government.
4) What departments are essential and which are not? For a complete list of non-essential or per Webster’s dictonary, superfluous the WSJ has compiled a list (http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/10/01/which-government-workers-are-affected-by-shutdown/). As you can see 41% of government workers are not really needed. The top useless agencies are Labor Relations, FCC, Energy, and Export Import Bank.
5) Are Senators and Congressmen affected? Yes and no, they and their staff still receive their paychecks but most Democrats have closed their offices. The only explanation might be the furlough of the Capital building elevator button pusher will prevent Democrats and staff from reaching their offices unassisted. (http://twitchy.com/2013/10/01/the-bleeding-continues-congressional-elevator-button-pushers-become-latest-shutdown-casualty/)
6) Will President Obama suffer from the shutdown? Barrack and Michele are already feeling the pain as they have been forced by the shutdown to reduce their personal servants from 90 down to a plebeian 15. At least they will not have their friends and supporters complaining since all presidential appointees still receive their checks.
7) How will the employees furloughed survive? Putting aside the horror stories of Government employees not being able to pay bills and some even being forced to lay off maids it is not what it appears.(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/us/politics/government-shutdown-would-hurt-economy-of-washington-area.html?pagewanted=all) In the areas around Washington the unemployment offices are being flooded with claims from furloughed workers. After the shutdown in 1995 (The Lewinsky incident) all 21 days of pay were restored to federal workers by a generous Senate. There is already a bill called “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act” introduced to pay them for their time at home doing nothing rather than in a federal building doing nothing.
Some additions points to ponder: One might look at almost half of government being superfluous as an opportunity to cut taxes in half, but you can’t furlough those that don’t work so food stamps, welfare, SSI checks still must go out. Realistically it would be a 15% cut in taxes. After the 1995 government shutdown the next four budgets were balanced for the first time since the 1920’s.
Feel free to use this guide as the rhetoric heats up to discern the motivations of each speaker. Some won’t be as transparent as Harry Reid when he stated the delayed paychecks of 1,100 of his voters are more important than the death of a little girl with cancer. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0lFyFJeZSY)