A little over four days remain for Congress to come up with a solution to how the federal government will pay its bills. On Thursday, the Washington Post was focusing on specific plans most federal agencies have in place to carry them through the one to five days of the initial shutdown.
The scenario outlined for the day-after in Washington D.C. is bad enough, but what about the rest of the country? What can we expect when we wake up the morning of the first day of a government shutdown?
A shutdown costs money, lots of money
Shutdowns don't come cheap. We have had two of them in recent years. The late 1995 and early 1996 shutdowns cost this country, actually the tax-payers, close to $1.4 billion. And another thing to consider is that we won't entirely be left out in the cold.
There are some services that are considered essential to our safety and welfare as a nation that must continue to operate, regardless of anything else that may be happening. These include national security, public safety, and health and welfare. Employees in these areas would be called to work.
The additional costs accrued creating and then putting into operation the contingency plans also cost our government money. Most government agencies don't talk much about what goes into them or how they will operate, but be sure the protocols in place.
A few ways the government shutdown will affect you
How about a vacation or trip to any of our 368 National Park sites? Forget it, because they will have to close,being non-essential. Those plans to go to France may have to be put on hold, too. Especially if you applied for a passport and are waiting to receive it. The last time we shutdown, over 200,000 passport applications went unprocessed.
In Prince George's County, Virginia, school principles have already been notified that plans for field trips to the National Zoo, the Capital and other attractions may have to be cancelled and other arrangements made, maybe.
If you are a federal employee, you will officially be on "furlough." Don't bother coming to work unless your job is essential. This means air-traffic controllers, food inspectors and a few other workers in essential jobs will come to work. But don't worry about getting paid, either. Pay is retro-active.
Our military personnel will continue to protect us, of course. But even here, there is the problem of not having the appropriations to actually pay them. They will receive IOU's, the first being for their mid-October paycheck. In January, Senators Mark Udall, D-Colorado, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, introduced legislation that would have protected pay for the troops during a shutdown, but it didn't get anywhere.
A few other scenarios to consider
- We still have to pay taxes, everyday.
- ATF will be affected, so no gun permits on the horizon.
- The mail will go through, including "junk mail."
- Federal loans for small businesses or home loans will be delayed.
- Social Security checks should be processed, the President promised to keep a few people on duty to take care of this.
- Obamacare will continue it's implementation process because its funds are not dependent on the congressional budget process.
In all seriousness, a government shutdown at this time would set us back economically, and that is something we do not need. The remnants of the Great Recession are still evident, and we as a country have worked very hard to pull ourselves out of that quagmire. That we are allowing this Congress to play their political games with us is almost criminal. Maybe we as a country, the real government, need to step up and tell Congress they need to get their act together or hit the road.