As of today it seems very possible that the government will indeed shut down on Monday, September 30. The House Republicans are insistent in their demands to defund Obamacare and have acknowledged that they will not give up on it. This leaves the Democrats in a very difficult situation — give in to Republican hostage-taking, or allow the government to shut down and essential services to go unfunded?.
The Obama administration already issued a statement to begin planning for a partial shutdown. Should we fear? It is important to say that even when Monday comes, many parts of the government will not stop functioning. However, the shutdown is not a minor issue, and every American will feel its effects. Here is what to expect.
First, all government officials and federal employees will be left without pay and are forbidden to show up for work. The Anti-Deficiency Act says that there are actual criminal penalties for officials who consciously order their staff to work. The United States has about 1,300,000 civilian employees. Only the ones who are deemed essential will have to show up at work, and it is estimated that only up to 70,000 people will be deemed essential by their supervisors. That leaves more than 1,200,000 people at home, without salary.
The police, members of the Army, and some health care employees will be at work. There will be no chaos in the streets, but the government will definitely function at a much slower pace. For example, there will be no one to approve credit and loan applications, and no one to issue driver or weapon licenses. If you have to get information from a government service, do not expect to be able to do so. The granting operations of the government will stop almost in their entirety. National parks, forests, and museums will be closed. Therefore, if you were looking forward to the shutdown with some holiday plans, do not expect to be able to do much.
Ultimately, all regulation will shut down. That means, for example, that there will be no one to control food safety, to measure temperature of the oceans, or to worry about the environment, and trash will pile up, as there will be no one to collect it.
Beneficiaries of Social Security may expect to get their checks during the shutdown, but that claim is only based on the experience of the last one, which happened in 1996. But, it remains certain that some financial services will at least be delayed. Employees that show up for work will not be paid. During the last shutdown, they were reimbursed retroactively, but it will be left to Congress to decide what will happen this time.
Any ongoing trade negotiations and governmental contracts will be suspended. From the international standpoint the money market will eventually lose its faith in the worth of dollar. Therefore, the legislators are risking the country’s credit rating as well in this irrational spectacle. Many say that there will be huge, real, and deterred costs of this shutdown, but no one is sure how much it is going to cost, because it is difficult to predict at the moment.
Finally, there is no time limit on how long a shutdown may last. The shutdown will continue as long as Congress and the White House do not reach a deal. Undoubtedly, there will be pressure coming from the public. When and if this issue gets resolved, there is another calamity that might even be considered more important — the issue of the debt ceiling. In mid-October, the government will run out of money to pay for the services it requires. Yet another theater stage for the House GOP to play on.
A difficult time for Congress is coming. Let’s just hope that congressmen and congresswomen will be reminded that they are there to do their best in the interest of their constituents, and that they will come to their senses and prevent a potential financial catastrophe that will influence the whole world.