The views expressed in any article published in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Joseph Foster or Bob Lupoli.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Government Shutdown: Catastrophe or Inconvenience?

Joe:  the more I learn about what actually happens during a shutdown it seems the less I view it as a major catastrophe. It seems the President and Congress continue to receiving funding as do the security apparatus; FBI, etc. It seems more like a major inconvenience (so called “non-essential” workers furloughed) and in some ways really stupid like closing down National Parks. Some links below. –Bob

Recipients of government entitlement programs, such as Social Security, food stamps, Medicare, and Medicaid, would not experience a delay in payments, though new applications for any of these programs would likely be placed on hold.
Other nonessential government services, such as national parks and museums, would close during a shutdown.

If no one blinks, Washington could be headed toward a shutdown – the 16th since Jimmy Carter was president.  Most shutdowns lasted fewer than three days. One of the most famous, the standoff between President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich over balancing the federal budget – lasted 21 days, from Dec. 16, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996. That shutdown furloughed some 800,000 federal workers; delayed processing of visas, passports, and other government applications; suspended cleanup at 600 toxic waste sites; and closed national museums and monuments as well as 368 national park sites – a loss to some 9 million visitors and the airline and tourist industries that service them.

* Hundreds of thousands of the 4.4 million federal workers could be idled as nonessential, disrupting all but vital U.S. services such as national defense, emergency medical care and air traffic control. In addition, some employees of federal contractors may also be furloughed.

* Unlike the last two shutdowns, both of which occurred in the 1990s, this one would take place during tax preparation and filing season. That could mean delayed tax refunds to an untold number of Americans, congressional aides say.

* The last shutdown closed much of the federal government from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996. National parks and museums were closed, an estimated 200,000 applications for U.S. passports went unprocessed and work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases was suspended.

As a result, the government closed 368 National Park Service sites, along with national museums and monuments, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

In addition, 200,000 passport applications went unprocessed, and toxic waste cleanup work at 609 sites stopped, according to the same report. The National Institutes of Health stopped accepting new clinical research patients, and services for veterans, including health care, were curtailed. A shutdown would also result in the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal employees, but the government would keep essential services -- like air traffic control, and the national security apparatus -- in full operating mode.  And yes, the mail will still be delivered. Still, a large number of federal workers would be asked to stay home.

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