What does it mean if the government shuts down?April 8, 2011 Marina Y Sanchez Freelance Columnist
I was like many not taking the possibility of our government shutting down not seriously enough. However, this is serious.
Here are the facts:
- The current funding resolution expires at midnight April 8th. So a shutdown would start Saturday, April 9. This funding is what keeps the government running.
- The White House and congressional leaders are working on a deal that would slash about $33 billion from the federal budget, including $10 billion already cut by two other short-term measures, amounting to the largest reductions in U.S. history.
Despite trying to find a resolution, there are still big differences over where in the budget to cut.
- Democrats want to find savings in so-called mandatory spending, the largest part of the federal budget, which is made up of pre-determined spending, like entitlement programs.
- Republicans want the cuts to come only from what’s known as discretionary spending, the relatively small percentage of the overall budget that Congress sets every year in the appropriations process.
- The most recent shutdown stretched from mid-December 1995 until early January 1996.
- The longest a shutdown has lasted has been 21 days.
- As this point, it is unknown what would stay open and who would work.
We won’t know for certain until it happens.
Federal agencies are drafting contingency plans to determine which functions would continue and who would keep working. But the Office of Management and Budget has ordered agencies not to publicly disclose details, frustrating many federal employees and federal worker union leaders who say the silence is causing confusion in the ranks.
However, any functions providing for national security, critical foreign relations and the safety of life and property will continue. Global U.S. military operations would continue, air-traffic controllers would watch the skies and Transportation Security Administration officers would still screen air passengers. Veterans Affairs doctors and nurses would report for duty, as would U.S. Border Patrol agents, federal prison guards, any Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel needed for disaster assistance and security guards protecting federal facilities.
How does it affect us as individuals?
More shutdown threats lie ahead.
Either the White House and Congress will reach an agreement that funds the government through the end of the fiscal year in September, or they will agree to another short-term deal and keep talking.
An estimated 800,000 federal employees who would feel the financial pinch of a government shutdown.. Americans like front desk clerks at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, manufacturing executives whose companies supply goods to federal agencies, bank loan officers who make mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and Wall Street analysts who depend on a steady flow of government data.
Pulling a plug like this will cause a ripple effect on many other businesses.
With all that looms in the air, can we continue to trust the government in making the right choices? And even if we can settle this one with the shutdown, what lingers in the future as far as our debt problem?