Once again, Americans are facing a government shutdown.
Which is bad enough on its own, but this time could happen as our economy and job market recover from the worst financial crisis in over 75 years. Even a short shutdown of just a few days could have a lasting impact on our economy and adversely affect millions of hardworking American families.
Just last month, our economy received good news when the Commerce Department revised second quarter GDP growth up to 2.5 percent, an increase from 1.1 percent in the first quarter, and reported that incomes increased by 0.4 percent in August, the highest rate in six months. Yet this pace is not enough to lift prospects for millions of working families still struggling in the wake of the Great Recession.
The other side in this debate says this is about spending. But it's become clear that it is not just about spending; their additional goal is to prevent implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The health care law is already providing greater access to preventative services, providing better value for health insurance coverage, and ending discrimination for a pre-existing condition.
While I remain hopeful that an agreement to fund the government can be made, my staff has compiled the following information regarding government services in the event a shutdown does occur. For the most current government agency information, visit this web page at the Office of Management and Budget: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/contingency-plans
These critical services would continue:
• Social Security checks for seniors, people with disabilities and survivors would still go out. But new Social Security applications will likely not be processed during any shutdown, as during in the previous shutdowns.
• Troops would continue to serve, though their pay could be put on hold.
• Critical homeland security functions such as border security would continue.
• The Postal Service, which is self-funded, will continue to operate.
• The FAA would keep the air traffic control system open and safe.
• Applications filed with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, such as N-400 applications for citizenship and I-485 applications for adjustment of status to permanent residence, will continue to be processed during any government shutdown.
The following services would likely be affected:
• Federal Employees: A shutdown would furlough millions of middle-class government workers, and there is no provision guaranteeing retroactive pay for so-called nonessential employees. A government shutdown could take weeks of pay away from these families and millions of dollars out of local communities across the country.
• Unemployment benefits: The federal funds that help states pay the costs of their unemployment programs could be affected depending on the length of the shutdown.
• Veterans’ services: While VA hospitals will remain open, veterans’ benefits could be delayed or reduced, as was the case during the last shutdown. During the 1995-96 shutdowns, more than 400,000 veterans saw their disability benefits and pension claims delayed, while educational benefits were delayed for 170,000 veterans.
• Public Health Research: Important research funded through the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation into life-threatening diseases, environmental protection, and other areas would be halted.
• National parks and museums: National parks and the National Wildlife Refuge Systems would be among the first places to close if the government shuts down, including in New York the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Theodore Roosevelt’s house, Grant’s tomb, and Federal Hall. National museums, including the Smithsonian Institution, would close in the event of a government shutdown.
• Passports: Passport and visa applications will not be processed. In the 1996 shutdown, over 200,000 passport applications and 30,000 daily visa applications went unprocessed.
• IRS processing of tax refunds for some returns would be suspended.
• SBA approval of applications for business loan guarantees and direct loans to small businesses would likely cease, impacting the engines of our economy and potentially slowing the economic recovery.
• A government shutdown could force Head Start centers around the country to close.
• Access to the U.S. Capitol: Guide and staff-led tours of the Capitol will be cancelled, but the House Gallery will remain open.
Brace yourselves. This fiscal fight could be worse than 2011′s. (Washington Post Wonkbook)
Impact of a government shutdown (Washington Post)
Meet the new idiots, same as the... Actually, these idiots might be worse (Financial Times Alphaville Blog, registration required)