The Real Scoop On A Government Shutdown
First of all, it’s worth noting that the budget that’s being fought over is the one that the Democrats neglected to pass last year, when they controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. In other words, they could have easily passed a budget last year, but didn’t fulfill that basic responsibility because they were afraid it would turn into an election issue.
Next, you have to understand that a government shutdown is like a big game of chicken. Either side could easily avert the shutdown by caving in. So, if Republicans decided that they didn’t care about cutting the budget or the Democrats decided to make 50-60 billion in cuts, there would be no shutdown. If you believe the stories being leaked to the press, the government is probably going to shut down over less than 30 billion dollars’ worth of cuts. In other words, if there’s a shutdown, it will occur because of a piddly amount that comes out to less than 1/50 of our current deficit.
Ironically, conservatives tend to see a government shutdown as no big deal while liberals get all upset about the idea. This is ironic because the Republican Party is much more anxious to avoid a shutdown than the Democrats. That’s because the Democrats have come to the conclusion that they can get away with blaming the GOP for a shutdown and they’ll benefit from it politically. So, the party that’s hoping there’s a shutdown on Friday? That would be the Democratic Party.
The fact that Barack Obama hasn’t been very involved in the process and breezily dismissed a Boehner offer of a continuing resolution is a pretty good indication of where the Democrats’ heads are on a shutdown.
The former head of the DNC, Howard Dean said as much last week,
If I was head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for (a government shutdown). I know who’s going to get blamed – we’ve been down this road before.
Their assumption about who would get blamed seems to be pretty iffy, mainly because there are so many Democrats publicly admitting that they think a government shutdown would be good for the Democratic Party while so many Republicans in Congress are fretting over the idea.
Will there be a shutdown? It seems more likely than not at this point — although there’s still time to avert it.
What happens if there is a shutdown? Less than you’d think. In fact, 98% of Americans would probably be completely unaffected by a shutdown.
The great majority of government operations would cease, which means that federal parks and museums would be closed, as would the National Zoo (though animals still would be fed). Shuttered, too, would be passport offices around the country. The SBA would not be open to accept loan applications. The Federal Housing Administration would not be available to guarantee loans.
The Internal Revenue service would have to suspend tax audits – some would call that good news – but it also would halt the paper processing of tax refunds; taxpayers could continue to file electronically and receive refunds if direct deposit was requested.
The State Department has said emergency services provided to Americans overseas would remain available but that consular and embassy staffing would be reduced, meaning that visa requests from foreigners would not be processed. The National Institutes of Health would delay the start of new medical trials but continue those already under way.
Our troops would also be negatively impacted. Although they’d still earn pay, they wouldn’t actually receive it until there was a budget.
At the Pentagon, defense officials were finalizing plans that would lay out how the department would deal with a shutdown. But they already have acknowledged that U.S. military troops – including those in war zones – would receive one week’s pay instead of two in their next paycheck if the government were to close.
Military personnel at home and abroad would continue to earn pay, but they wouldn’t get paychecks until there was a budget agreement and government operations resumed.
So now you have the real scoop on a government shutdown. Let the public relations battle begin!