Time to Prepare for Government Closure

The House is preparing to vote on a CR that incorporates a one year delay in implementation of Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). [1] This outcome almost assuredly guarantees a government shutdown. [2]


WaPo has a nifty page that summarizes the department by department impact.


In addition to the disruption to government business and the economy, there will be a cost to shutting down and restarting government operations, somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 billion, if previous episodes are a guide [3].


One interesting point is that the shutdown will be more widespread than in 1995-96 because this time around none of the bills for funding the various departments have been funded.


Hope you weren’t planning to visit a national park, museum, or get a new passport.


Final point for the confused: This is a separate issue from the debt ceiling, which will likely be breached around October 17.

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32 thoughts on “Time to Prepare for Government Closure

  1. jonathan

    It would be better politically for the Democrats if things really shut down. It would be better politically for the Republicans if things continue to operate and they can say this is further evidence government is too big.

  2. Darren

    Hope you weren’t planning to visit a national park, museum, or get a new passport.
    Small price to pay for a recess from NSA spying, IRS harassment of non-leftists, jailing of innocent men under VAWA for failing to give their wives spending money, and DoJ selective prosecution of companies like Gibson Guitar, for donating to Republicans.
    Plus, shouldn’t the shutdown include a halt of paychecks for government employees? Why are they being paid even when instructed not to work. A proper furlough requires unpaid leave.

  3. 2slugbaits

    Darren You’re very confused. NSA spying will not come to an end because NSA activities come under the law’s “exempt” status. And while the IRS did deny tax-free status for a few liberal groups, it did not deny that status for a single conservative group. You also don’t understand the mechanics of the shutdown. Paychecks for government workers will come to a halt. They are not being paid “even when instructed not to work.” It’s the other way around; they are not being paid when instructed to work. The furlough over the summer due to the sequester was treated as unpaid leave because the sequester triggered administrative furlough procedures. This CR shutdown triggers agency funding furloughs, which operate under a different set of rules.
    I have no particular problem with people complaining about government operations, but if they want to complain, then they should go to the effort of learning the basic facts.

  4. DeDude

    So GOP is throwing a hissy fit because poor people are getting health care. Yes lets stop paying our military. A large number of people who vote GOP do so based on some abstract idea of “government bad”. Let some of those people suffer the consequences of their votes. I sure hope those people processing social security checks are government workers – a lot of old folks have been voting GOP.
    Next up the Koch brothers (via their Tea Party sock puppets) insist that a previously proud nation becomes a deadbeat – unless they are allowed to have the Keystone pipeline. Its a straw for the Koch’s to suck money out of the pockets of midwest consumers straight into their little right wing war chest. How could the Tea Party resist when they know they will get part of the money.

  5. Wade

    Darren has correctly figured out that he is being squeezed, both politically and monetarily, by undeserving, freeloading bastards. He’s just been misinformed as to who those undeserving freeloaders are.

  6. Hans

    baits, you are getting your facts wrong about what the IRS does to Conservatives…
    DeDude, are they still banning Conservatives right and left, at the Angry Bear? No wonder the postings are in the single digit but the inbreeding will continue thank goodness…

  7. Hans

    baits, you are getting your facts wrong about what the IRS does to Conservatives…
    DeDude, are they still banning Conservatives right and left, at the Angry Bear? No wonder the postings are in the single digit but the inbreeding will continue thank goodness…

  8. Ricardo

    As usual Slug is spinning his web.
    Darren,
    The law states that essential services will still work and be paid. Slug would have you believe that those government workers who would get a vacation due to a Democrat government shutdown would not be paid. All of these employees will have their compensation deferred so that they will get paid as retroactively.
    Now the cute thing is that non-essential services is actually determined by the president so if you can’t get a into the National Parks or get a passport it is because President Obama has deemed that non-essential.
    Obviously, a shutdown identifies services that the government shouldn’t be doing anyway. These non-essential services would not go away if the government ended its ownership. The private sector would pick up the services that individual Americans considered essential.
    Now Menzie and Slug I am sure have a list of shutdowns that we cannot do without. I am sure that Menzie would be in the emergency room without the ability visit a National Park but essentially non-essential means the government should but out anyway.
    BTW if you really want the budget mess solved just classifiy the congress as non-essential and cut off their paychecks. The impass would be solved in a matter of hours.

  9. Jeffrey J. Brown

    If the House leadership allowed an up or down vote on a clean CR, isn’t it likely that the bill would pass?

  10. Menzie Chinn

    Ricardo: Can I take your comment to mean we should abolish the National Park system? If so, you should be explicit about it. I await Yosemite-Disney with bated breath!

  11. Ricardo

    Menzie,
    Is it me who is going to close down the National Park? Didn’t the Republicans send a bill to the Senate that would have kept the parks open? Are you opposed to the Senate sending the bill to President Obama and for him to sign rather than close down your recreation areas?
    Are you in favor of forcing low income people to pay over $2,000 per year in health care premiums and still have to pay $5,000 of their health care costs because of the deductible (or pay a $2,000 fine) just so you can go bird watching in the National Parks? That seems a little elitist. Not everyone makes what you make? You are at least in the upper 2% aren’t you?

  12. Ricardo

    For those concerned about a government shutdown here is what will possibly shut down if the Democrat Senate refuses to fund the government. As I stated earlier only non-essential services will be shut down.
    A government shutdown primer
    A shutdown would not affect the delivery of mail or of Social Security and Medicare benefits. The airports would remain up and running with no impact on air safety traffic control. Travel visas and passports would still be issued and our embassies would stay open (barring another terrorist threat that scares President Obama into closing some of them).
    Federal courts would operate as usual for about ten days. After that, there would be furloughs, but cases still would be heard. The Food and Drug Administration would continue with federal meat inspections and handle high-risk recalls.
    The military would continue to function normally. However, the pay checks of servicemen and women would be delayed. And about half of the Defense Department’s would be furloughed, according to AP.
    The VA would continue to offer its services to veterans. Thus, veterans would still be able “to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics.” And “operators would still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers would still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits.”
    So what services would be halted or impaired?
    All national parks would be closed (I’ve pushed my weekly fall visit to Shenandoah Park up to today). So would the Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo here in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, the high tourist season is over.
    On the health front, no new patients would be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients would continue to receive care. Medical research at the NIH would be disrupted. According to AP, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks, from flu to that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East.”
    The Head Start program would feel some impact immediately and more as time went on. It’s not clear that, in the short run, any centers would have to close.
    Food stamps would still be doled out and school lunches and breakfasts would continued to be served. However, AP says that something called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children “could shut down.”
    The federal loan process would be affected. Action on government-backed loans to small businesses would be suspended (polling shows, however, that a plurality of small business owners favor Republicans in the showdown debate). The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, wouldn’t underwrite or approve any new loans during the shutdown. And “many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.”[This could actually help with economic recovery]

  13. ricardo is baffling

    Ricardo,
    so you agree with a terroristic negotiating style? in other words, if you don’t agree to my terms, i will terminate the funding of the government. i assume you will also terminate the funding of the national debt if your demands are not met as well? in case you weren’t aware, the terroristic demands are being brought to us by the Republican congressional extremists.
    the bills exist, just like obamacare, through completely legal democratic processes. the unwillingness to pay ones bills is actually the illegal action being espoused in today’s congress.
    so are you for the law of the land, or are you a lawbreaker?

  14. 2slugbaits

    Ricardo The only way that exempt government workers get reimbursed is if the GOP passes some kind of CR. Until that happens exempt government workers will work without pay. Not a big deal if we’re only talking about a few days, but if it goes for several weeks, then it will be a real hardship. How would you feel about having to work but not knowing when you would get paid? And if the GOP intends to eventually pass some kind of CR to reimburse govt workers, then why are they going through this silly bit of theater?
    BTW, govt workers will not be entirely reimbursed. Govt workers will forfeit certain previously earned non-cash benefits. Sounds like outright theft to me.
    Also, the State Dept said that visas would be processed at embassies and consulates. Passport applications will not be processed. Social Security checks will be sent, but there won’t be any people in the offices to resolve Social Security issues and claims disputes. The Weather Service will be entirely shut down. Better hope there aren’t any hurricanes. 97% of NASA will be shut down. Private sector employers will not be able to hire new employees requiring E-Verification. VA care workers will stay on the job; but those processing claims will be furloughed. And the Dept of Energy will stop processing permits for offshore drilling.
    Here’s an irony. When the GOP came to power in 2011 they said all bills must include a specific reference in the Constitution that supports the bill. But today Boehner came out and said that his latest version of the CR will call for cutting Congress’ pay. Nice theater, but I hope the Speaker knows that this is clearly unconstitutional. So where does the Constitution support what Boehner is saying?

  15. Jeffrey J. Brown

    As noted above, if I understand the situation, it seems likely that majorities of both houses are probably willing to pass a clean CR.

  16. Johannes

    Shutdown since today : that’s a charade to drive the markets (says GS). At least XETRA does not care at all about, even higher.

  17. Johannes

    If Obama would be interested to end the shutdown he should do the following, easy if there is a will to do :
    1. Determine that the TSA is not essential and stop Americans from exercising their God-given right to fly. That will end the shutdown in a day.
    2. Lower the eligibility age for Medicare to 25.
    3. Repeal the law setting a debt ceiling.
    4. Raise the federal income tax rate for incomes over a 500k to 80% and over a million to 95%.
    5. Repeal the law which prevents Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices.
    6. Repeal the law which prevents victims of gun violence from suing gun manufacturers for damages.
    7. Repeal the Second Amendment.
    The Koch brothers and their Tea Party will be against, the sane middle class without guns will be for that- has Obama been working for the majority of Americans ?

  18. kharris

    Johannes,
    You need to look into that “checks and balances” stuff. Obama cannot do most (perhaps any) of what you say. Congress has to pass legislation. Even Congress can’t repeat the Second Amendment.

  19. Ricardo

    Menzie,
    I feel your pain about you not being able to go to a National Park. I did a little research for you because I know you are so distressed. Even though you may not be able to go to a National Park you might be comforted by this.
    Parks in Wisconsin
    • 47 State Parks
    • 13 State Forests
    • 76 State Wildlife Areas
    • 23 State Wildlife Management Areas
    • 2 State Wildlife Refuges
    • 31 State Fishery Areas
    • 5 State Fish Hatcherys
    If you would like more information on any of these let me know and I can provide you a list. I hope this eases your mind.

  20. Ricardo

    Those of you who love Obamacare, consider that this turn-on of the Obamacare exchanges is smooth compared to most government operations, and speaking of operations just consider that you next operation will be scheduled by these same people. Will they miss your scheduled appointment by 1 week, or 1 month, or 1 year, multi-years (UK NIH). Remember when you thought signing up for an HMO was such a problem….?!!

  21. Johannes

    @kharris : you’re right. cheers.
    other solutions :
    Short term fix: As long as the government shutdown continues, the President and all members of Congress (both houses) forfeit their pay. They are the “primary” federal workers and need to be furloughed.
    Long term fix: Switch to a more British style parliamentary system where the President (or prime minister) is the leader of the largest party in congress, or at least has a coalition that holds the majority. In such a system when a budget fails to pass this normally results in a new election for congress, and we don’t need to go through ridiculous charades like the current one.

  22. Ricardo

    For the Democrats shutting down the government is a political game to allow them to attack Republicans, no matter how many people it hurts.
    A friend of mine sent me the following letter. I think it clearly lays out the Democrat position concerning the “government shutdown.”
    “I am a National Park Service volunteer that does trail maintenance on 2.9 miles of the North Country Trail in the Chequamegon National Forest. I got an email today from the NPS that had this instruction:
    “If a government shutdown occurs, all National Park Service Volunteer-In-Parks programs and related activities along the entire length of the North Country National Scenic Trail are to cease until the shut down is lifted.”
    So my question are, how do they suspend an unpaid volunteer? How would they stop me from going out on the trail and trimming foliage encroaching upon the trail? Would it not be in the public interest and support the statutory mission of the National Park Service to have volunteers keep the trail open?”

  23. ricardo is baffling

    Ricardo,
    It is against the law to volunteer in the national park during a shutdown. it is not the democrats who took the stand arbitrarily. it is actually the law-perhaps even passed by a republican congress-who knows.
    but anybody with an ounce of common sense could see a major reason to forbid volunteers to work during a funding stoppage. you are working on a path chopping down foliage and you get hurt, perhaps seriously. first there is nobody around to assist you. second, you are going to sue (or your healthcare provider will sue) to compensate for health care cost. and during the shutdown, the government cannot legally pay for items not deemed critical via the Antideficiency Act from the 1800′s.
    quit acting like a pertisan hack, open your eyes and live in the real world, not your tea fantasy.

  24. ricardo is baffling

    Ricardo,
    Since you obviously do not understand a thing about Obamacare, perhaps its is best you not voice your ignorance on the subject. obamacare only forces you into private insurance, not government healthcare. it is not a healthcare provider. and 90% of people will continue on their own insurance policy, oblivious to any change that may occur-because it wont affect them. it will only affect people who have NO health insurance.
    if you want to bitch and moan because you don’t have health insurance and dont want the opportunity to obtain affordable heath insurance, then go somewhere else cause i don’t want to hear it. and quit taking the opportunity away from others who do want affordable health insurance.

  25. tj

    ricardo
    Add this to your list of examples that show Democrats are going out of their way to inflict pain rather than minimize the impact of the shutdown.
    National Park Service Closes Only Private National Park in the Country
    As Menzie likes to say, there’s a name for these kind of people, LOL.
    You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money.
    http://townhall.com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2013/10/02/national-park-service-now-closing-parks-that-receive-no-federal-aid-n1715200

  26. Jan P Perlwitz

    tj writes:

    “Add this to your list of examples that show Democrats are going out of their way to inflict pain rather than minimize the impact of the shutdown.
    National Park Service Closes Only Private National Park in the Country
    As Menzie likes to say, there’s a name for these kind of people, LOL.

    What is the name for this kind of people? Law-obedient people?
    Claude Moore Colonial Farm is part of the National Park Service, a US federal agency.
    The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal employees from

    accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. 31 U.S.C. § 1342.

    Federal employees who violate the Antideficiency Act are subject to two types of sanctions: administrative and penal. Employees may be subject to appropriate administrative discipline including, when circumstances warrant, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office. In addition, employees may also be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both.
    http://www.gao.gov/legal/lawresources/antideficiencybackground.html
    Are you complaining that the federal employees in the NPS do not break the law?
    What about you and “ricardo” make yourself knowledgeable about matters first, instead of blindly regurgitating sound bites you copy from tea party websites or right wing news sources?

  27. Jan P Perlwitz

    ricardo writes:

    Obviously, a shutdown identifies services that the government shouldn’t be doing anyway.

    According to “ricardo”, this would be for instance issuing passports. Well, I guess someone who never leaves his/her hick town is far from needing a passport. Or maintaining a National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or funding scientific research (e.g., through NSF, NASA, DoE, NOAA, EPA).

  28. Ricardo

    Menzie,
    I need to apologize. I did not realize that the Obama administration was sending out the police to close parks that have nothing to do with the funding by the National Park Service. Now I understand that even though Wisconsin has all those parks federal law enforcement will not allow you to visit. I just didn’t realize it.
    tj, I think this is what you were referring to.
    – National Park Officials closed down the educational Claude Moore Colonial Farm near the CIA in McLean, Va., even though the federal government doesn’t fund or staff the park popular with children and schools. Just because the privately-operated park is on Park Service land, making the federal government simply its landlord, the agency decided to close it.
    This is another instance where the Obama administration went out of its way, not to save money, but to inconvenience taxpayers by creating the illusion that the government “shutdown” is causing problems. What follows from those who actually run the Moore Colonial Farm is devastating to Barack Obama and his administration:
    A Claude Moore Colonial Farm official said that the privately-funded staff is on the job Wednesday, but barred from letting anybody visit the historically accurate buildings or animals. Anna Eberly, the managing director, sent out an email decrying the decision and rude National Park Service staff handling the closure.
    Pointing to Park Service claims that parks have to be closed because the agency can’t afford staff during the government closure, Eberly wrote: “What utter crap. We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm. And if you were to park on the grass and visit on your own, you run the risk of being arrested. Of course, that will cost the NPS staff salaries to police the Farm against intruders while leaving it open will cost them nothing.”
    She added: “In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service, first as a volunteer for six years in Richmond where I grew up, then as an NPS employee for eight very long years and now enjoyably as managing director for the last 32 years — I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS. I deeply apologize that we have to disappoint you today by being closed but know that we are working while the National Park Service is not — as usual.”

  29. BenAround

    Fascinating discussions about the shutdown of national parks. More to the point for economic analysis, however, is the shutdown of the BEA and Census web sites. Perhaps the private sector will step in to provide economic statistics.

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