The Government is Shutdown? Who Knew?

The Government is Shutdown? Who Knew?

The Federal Government has been shut down a record setting number of days, reaching the longest on record on January 12th at 22 days, and there is no end in sight.

The complexities of the shutdown debate are endless – who is at fault, what is being affected – and knowing both sides have entrenched positions means this could go on for quite some time.  Most know the central dispute governing this shutdown is funding for a Border Wall.

But does anyone even notice there is a shutdown?  Many news outlets have found government employees in different departments who are struggling, and that is a frustrating outcome of this impasse.  But 70% of the government operates on auto-pilot, from the military to critical services like air traffic controllers.  The markets seem to have shrugged – after weeks of fear-inducing volatility and downturns, the markets have actually been up over the last week or so.  Your job keeps going, the kids keep playing Little League, and the TV is still showing movies and sports.  Maybe we should keep the government shut down permanently – life would be a lot … quieter.

So, what are the top 10 issues affected by a government shutdown, and is having a shutdown good or bad?

Top 10 of what is getting paid, and not paid, during the current government shutdown:

10. “Monuments and national parks are closed down”: Sorta’, kinda’, maybe? Parks are closed but monuments and certain open public spaces remain available for your enjoyment, including the Smithsonian.   Unless you planned a month-long trip to Yellowstone, there is still a lot to do in DC.

SHUTDOWN IMPACT GOOD OR BAD?  – Good!  Saving money at minimal impact on your vacation enjoyment.

9. “Federal employees are not getting paid”: No-so-fast my friend … many federal employees are not getting paid, for now. Nearly every position is retroactively paid, so whenever it ends, a big check will make up for the lost income.

8.  “Nation’s military remains on watch”: As a critical service, the military remains funded regardless of Congressional appropriation. Despite social media posts to the contrary, national defense gets paid.

 7. “Banks can still access Federal support and access to live currency”: Also, like the military, major US banks remain open and available for service. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department makes sure the nations big banks can meet the needs of their clients.

6.  “Yes, the postal service is still operational”: A 19th century creation remains in operation, in the 21st Century, through a shutdown. Albeit with a reduced staff.

5. “Social security continues”: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid … all social services remain fully funded.

4. “Small businesses are cut-off from government lending”: The Small Business Administration has been shuttered during the impasse, and small-business formation dependent on SBA lending guarantees are simply out of luck for now.

 3. “Obamacare keeps going”: It should be no surprise that a government program that could survive a conservative Chief Justice, numerous lawsuits, and politicians running for office with the singular campaign theme of repealing Obamacare would still be running through a government shutdown. Classified as a “critical service,” the program would be funded under current law even without congressional appropriation, making it even more certain than the death and taxes.

2. “Garbage collection may stop in DC”: The District’s funding comes directly from Congress, but rainy-day funds could keep the garbage collected for a few more weeks.

1. “Mueller … Mueller … Mueller”: Somehow, garbage may not be collected in DC, and monuments may not open, but the investigation into President Trump continues. The Justice Department is a “critical service,” and there funding continues unabated.

It is clear that a government shutdown is not really a shutdown at all, since so much of government operations remains funded regardless of Congressional appropriation.  The services we are going without apparently has not impacted everyday life:

  1. There is no recession currently.
  2. Jobs report showed jobless claims were below the estimates.
  3. The market is down year over year – but up this past month.

Some have argued that Trump plans to push the shutdown past 30 days.  Under US law, if a federal employee has been furloughed for more than 30 days, he can be terminated without cause under the “Reduction in Force” (RIF) statutes.  It would be met with lawsuits across the country, but it certainly is within the President’s prerogative.

In conclusion, this has always been about the politics, and not the efficacy or effectiveness of a “wall.”  Two informed people on the subject from the other side of the aisle have said so:

  1. Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “…border walls obviously work in some areas” … and “…we should not tear down barriers” where they already exist.
  2. President Obama’s Chief of the Border Patrol, Mark Morgan: “I cannot think of a legitimate argument why anyone would not support the wall as part of a multi-layered border security issue.”

In conclusion, the President has already intimated at compromise – 3-year DACA extension in exchange for wall funding.  A wall will help us keep US citizens safer, and it is a paltry sum relative to our budget to bring an end to the budget impasse.  Congress should come together and give the President his request in exchange for a compromise on an issue of importance to their side.

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