Oh No! Not the Non-Essential Services!

Unsurprisingly the big story here in the Washington DC Metro area is the potential government shut down.  While most Americans go about their business, hardly giving it a second thought, dire predictions of the doom to come are broadcast throughout all media institutions.  We should expect rioting in the streets (no, seriously, I heard someone suggest this), mass mayhem, a crippling of our Nation’s infrastructure, and worst yet – feline and canine cohabitation.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  The Washington Express – the free, Reader’s Digest version of the Washington Post – had a headline this morning that blared “NOT THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS!!!”  It seems that this weekend’s cherry blossom parade would be canceled if there is a government shutdown.

This is indeed horrible news.  Sure American troops are in harm’s way around the world, and we are printing money hand over fist as our country goes deeper into debt to totalitarian regimes, but that’s nothing compared to the sheer terror of tourists being slightly inconvenienced by the cancellation of a hokey parade in downtown Washington.  Leave aside the fact that they will still be free to see the cherry blossoms themselves (even if they are now past their peak bloom), and that many of the tourist attractions in our Nation’s Capital are outdoor sites that will still be open.  It is surely worth compromising on such an insignificant thing like the federal budget in order to avoid this catastrophe.

The Express goes on to detail some of the ways in which we are all going to be affected by a shutdown.  I would recommend listening to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings as you read the proceeding paragraph in order to set the appropriate mood.

The Obama administration warned Wednesday that a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery; delay pay to troops fighting in three wars; slow the processing of tax returns; and limit small-business loans, and government-backed mortgages during peak home-buying season.

The Express then calls this a “dire message.”  Indeed.

Now that you’ve had the appropriate amount of time to digest this warning of the coming apocalypse, let’s take these items one at a time.

a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery

This is a “show me the work” statement.  At least the other predictions are factually supportable, but this is mere guesswork.  Could there be some negative economic consequences?  I suppose that there will be direct and indirect impacts on the economy, but will the economic recovery come to a grinding halt as a result of the shutdown?  Besides, the shutdown won’t do as much to undermine our economy as will continued neglect of the national debt.

delay pay to troops fighting in three wars

No one wants to place a financial burden on troops fighting for our country, but notice the word is delay, not cancel.  Unlike other federal employees, the troops would still receive back pay in case the shutdown lasts long enough to even cause a delay.

Tangentially I would note that the article mentions three wars.  Didn’t President Nobel Peace Price come into office with America engaged in two wars, one of which he wholly opposed and implied that we’d withdraw from?  Now we’re up to three?  Very curious.  I’m sure ObamaCaths will explain that this is somehow all Bush’s fault and FOUR MORE YEARS!

slow the processing of tax returns

Today’s date is April 7.  January 1 was 97 days ago.  Okay, no one other than Ned Flanders actually does their taxes after the break of midnight on New Year’s, but April 18 is not the only date that tax returns must be filed – it’s the last day to file taxes without penalty.  So while I certainly sympathize with people whose federal tax returns might come a little later, you did have three months to do this.  And again, this is a delay.  You’ll still get your checks.

and limit small-business loans, and government-backed mortgages during peak home-buying season

Yes, a nuisance to people buying homes.  But it’s temporary inconvenience, not a crushing of one’s dreams to buy a home.  So the closing date might be pushed back a week; I don’t think that qualifies as a national crisis.

Lest I be criticized as being overly dismissive of the negative consequences of a government shutdown, I recognize that some people will be more significantly impacted by it.  Many of my friends are federal workers, sothey’re not going to be paid as long as the government is closed, and they are not likely to receive back pay (as it stands now – that could change).  Contrary to what some people think federal employees don’t spend their evenings dining on champagne and caviar in their 20-room mansions overlooking the Potomac – well, most don’t anyway.  Losing a week or two week’s pay is going to be a hit.  And there will be hiccups as people will be unable to resolve any disputes that might arise in that time frame.  But people receiving government benefits will continue to receive government benefits.  Our army isn’t going to have to close shop, so our borders will remain protected, or at least the ones to the north, east, and west.

The government shutdown is going to be at worst a minor inconvenience to a small proportion of the population.  I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t care about the people who might be more meaningfully impacted, but it does mean that the warnings of dire consequences sound a bit overheated. Considering the financial mess we’re in, I find it reprehensible that we’re more worried over a potential government shutdown than we are about seriously addressing our budget concerns.  I’m sorry if someone’s trip to Yellowstone might have to be canceled, but I would hope that making sure our grandkids don’t end up working for the Chinese government might be a bit more of a pressing concern.

And if you think I’m minimizing the impact of this potential shutdown, here’s the last paragraph of the article:

Under long-standing federal rules, agencies would not be affected if they provide for U.S. national security; dispense most types of federal benefit payments; offer inpatient medical care or outpatient emergency care; ensure the safe use of food or drugs; manage air traffic; protect and monitor borders and coastline; guard prisoners; conduct criminal investigations; oversee power distributions; and oversee banks.

In other words, unless the government agency performs a task that actually matters, it’s going to be shut down.

Shudder.  How will we weather this crisis?

26 Responses to Oh No! Not the Non-Essential Services!

  • As long as the fried pizza places in DC are still opened, all will be right with the world. :)

    Note how the news stories about a government shut down never focus on how the fifth assistant to the second assistant of the third assistant to the assistant secretary at the EPA in charge of swamps, will be using her time off to spend all her time surfing the net, instead of the 30% of her time devoted to that task during her average day at work? (By the way Don, I am telling myself now, GET BACK TO WORK!!!!)

  • …Don’t worry, some old hippie will probably be digging up copper to sell for scrap and inadvertently cut your cable so you can get back to the peoples business.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2011/04/07/2011-04-07_armenia_and_georgia_lose_internet_service_when_elderly_woman_accidentally_cuts_c.html

  • Okay, no one other than Ned Flanders actually does their taxes after the break of midnight on New Year’s, but April 18 is not the only date that tax returns must be filed – it’s the last day to file taxes without penalty.

    Hi-de ho, neighbor…. I get the money the government has been holding on to ASAP, to the point that we actually got our return filed before the military pay system crashed from everyone trying to get their tax information. (happens every year, usually several times)

    Military folks over seas are going to be more worried than they should be because they’ve been briefed that they may not be paid starting on the pay day that already passed; one of my buddies was spitting fire about it on facebook. They did something to the pay system already, since it usually goes into the Navy Fed system several days before and is held, and it didn’t do that this month. So if this goes on long enough, expect mischief with military pay.

    Hit a radio talk show that had a lady breathing fire– her class has been saving all year to go to DC, and she’s going to make this a teaching moment that will not help the dems at all! (Beware when you send someone to teach how gov’t is supposed to work, they might do it.)

    For the folks who depend on their reserve weekends to keep their heads above water, and for the folks who have trouble making two month’s rent, the timing is very good– there are several weeks to go before next month’s rent.

    I’ve heard jokes going around that they’ll be able to save 30 billion just in energy costs in a few weeks of shutdown!

  • You. Monster.

    No doubt you think cutting funding for cowboy poetry slams is a good idea, too, Thurston Howell IV.

  • More seriously, putting our enlisted men and women through the wringer is a genuinely bad idea. They’re living paycheck to paycheck as it is.

    As are a lot of the “excepted” federal law enforcement officers who are going to be working without pay if there’s a shutdown. There’s the possibility of passing a bill funding the former, but the latter–among whose ranks are my brother in Customs and Border Protection.

  • Omitted concluding phrase “are out of luck.”

  • I know, Dale. They’re going to have to start wheeling me around in one of those Hannibal Lecter thingies.

    As for military pay, I’ve heard some conflicting news reports, but Gates talked to the troops and had this to say:

    “But in all seriousness, based on some stuff I read this morning, if the government shuts down starts on the 8th and goes for a week, you’d get a half a check. If it goes from the 15th to the 30th, you wouldn’t get a pay check on the 30th but you would be back paid for all of it. So that’s the deal and I’m, you know, frankly, I remember when I was your age I did a lot of living from pay check to pay check and so I hope this thing doesn’t happen.”

    Republicans have proposed a bill that would fully fund the DoD for the rest of the year and thereby would ensure that the troops would get paid throughout a shutdown, but it’s unlikely to pass the Senate. And why?

    But the bill, HR 1363, already has been rejected by Senate leaders because poison-pill riders have been attached to the measure that are unacceptable to many Democrats — such as preventing the District of Columbia from spending its own money on abortions — and because Democrats don’t want to separate the Defense Department from the rest of the federal budget out of concern such a move might make it even harder to get an complete federal funding agreement.

  • The thing that’s really annoying is that the military usually makes up for short-falls from the future benefits fund– which means that they went out of their way to hurt the people out there getting SHOT AT for them.

    To make a political point.

  • “because Democrats don’t want to separate the Defense Department from the rest of the federal budget out of concern such a move might make it even harder to get an complete federal funding agreement.”

    Yep, a lot of phoney baloney government spending simply doesn’t stand a chance of surviving unless the Democrats can hold the troops in harm’s way hostage.

  • Sure hope those federal inmates lock their doors, like Otis of Mayberry.

  • “Sure hope those federal inmates lock their doors, like Otis of Mayberry.”

    A lot of the “Club Feds” have less security than the jail on the Andy Griffith show. As for the Super Maxes, I am confident that they will continue to function as usual, despite the government shutdown so the Democrats can protect investment in such useful functions of government as the Department of Education’s 70 billion or 700,000 to the University of New Hampshire to study cow flatulence.

  • Wait–did I just read this?

    “As long as the fried pizza places in DC”

    *Fried* pizza? Seriously? I love watching “Man vs. Food,” but that concept kicks in the gag reflex.

  • Meanwhile, many second-class citizens (taxpayers who work in the evil, unjust private sector) are having a hard time driving to work; feeding their families; and heating their homes.

    Ed Morrissey at Hot Air: “Obama fills the role of clueless aristocrat by telling a man who explains that he can’t afford to fill his gas tank at current prices that he should instead buy a new car. If the press reported it, the retort would prove rather embarrassing — which may be why the Associated Press scrubbed it from their coverage of the event. . . . Just think how Marie Antoinette would have fared with a media so devoted to spinning for her.” Instapundit saved a screenshot for the record.

    “The horror! The horror!”

    They must think we are as stupid as are they. Bart Simpson famously said, “I’m insulted!”

    The Obama-worshipping, moronic MSM are aiding and abetting the zero’s lying demagoguery with the budget process. They will endlessly prattle on that it’s the extremist tea party’s/GOP’s fault because they viciously refused to accept Obama’s no-cut spending . . .

    Shut ‘er down. And, throw away the keys.

  • I am sure all those defense workers, law enforcement officials, other essential personnel who may have to work without pay will be thrilled to do so. Oh yes, I know, they will get paid, probably, eventually. Anyone care to tell that to their banks who want to know why their mortgage checks are late?

    Honestly, I am steamed at both parties. The Democrats because this could have all been avoided if they had passed a budget last summer like they were suppose to… when they controlled Congress. It might not have been one that many of us would have liked, but at least the government could have functioned. And ultimately, I am mad at both parties for threatening to shutdown the government over what really amounts to a tiny percentage of the budget ($30 billion is essentially 1% of the budget). The budget is simply not going to be fixed or broken over these cuts (Now if we are talking about shutting government down over funding Planned Parenthood, then we are talking about a different issue).

    I do give credit to Paul Ryan for actually attempting to take entitlements in the 2012 budget, though I think it is sheer fantasy to believe that most Americans will accept deep enough cuts in their entitlements to fix the budget and cut taxes at the same time (Not to mention the tax cuts seem to be targeted at the rich and cut deductions for the middle class… meaning most of us will not actually see a tax cut…).

    Ultimately, here is the deal, fighting over thirty billion dollars, claiming it is to fix the budget is frankly as idiotic as trying to find a dry spot on the Titanic.

    Oh one last point. Paul, your opinion regarding filing taxes is frankly insulting. First of all, in 25 years of getting W2s, I have never once gotten one before the end of January, and often other documents, like 1099’s are even later (well at least the correct ones). So in practice, it is the middle of February before most people can even begin doing their taxes. Add to that the responsibilities of work, raising a family (Try telling a two year old you can’t spend time with him so you can do taxes!), and the various other obligations that come with life and it is frankly surprising that most people get them done on time. To tut-tut the people who might have their returns delayed because they only got their returns in a week or two early is incredibly uncharitable.

  • Honestly, I am steamed at both parties.

    Well then you’re sense of steam is misplaced.

    So in practice, it is the middle of February before most people can even begin doing their taxes. Add to that the responsibilities of work, raising a family (Try telling a two year old you can’t spend time with him so you can do taxes!), and the various other obligations that come with life and it is frankly surprising that most people get them done on time.

    Everything you’ve just mentioned fits my situation to a tee. I filed my taxes in mid-February. Yes, that hour was grueling, but I managed to do it.

  • *Fried* pizza? Seriously? I love watching “Man vs. Food,” but that concept kicks in the gag reflex

    That kinda got my saliva glands going.

  • Where is this fried pizza of which you speak?

  • Larry, when we get out to lunch, I pick the restaurant.

    Not so BTW: dhprice2-at-hotmail.com.

  • And just to make it clear – I’m not rooting for a government shutdown. I’m also not saying no one will be impacted. As I said, I have many good friends who are going to be without pay for who knows how long if this thing is not resolved. But this is not the dire tragedy that people are making it out to be, and is nothing compared to the budget mess that we face.

  • The year was 1989 and the fried pizza was great. I can’t recall the name of the place. It was on Connecticut just off Dupont Circle. Hadn’t had fried pizza before and haven’t found it since. It was unique and it tasted very good.

  • “Anyone care to tell that to their banks who want to know why their mortgage checks are late?”

    Happens to people in the private sector all the time. Government employees are only at the very beginning of a process which will amply demonstrate that governments are no more immune to the laws of economics than the private sector. Broke means broke, whether it be a business or a government, and that is our current situation. It is always a tragedy for the people involved, but we simply cannot continue pouring ever increasing amounts of borrowed money down the federal drain.

  • You might be thinking of Pizza Paradiso, which is very good. I guess I didn’t realize they termed it fried pizza.

    Now pizza on the barbecue grill – that’s good stuff.

  • When you fry vegetables, you destroy the healthy nutrients in them. You don’t have that problem with fried pizza. So you could argue that fried pizza is better for you than vegetables.

  • “…Democrats can protect investment in such useful functions of government as the Department of Education’s 70 billion or 700,000 to the University of New Hampshire to study cow flatulence.”

    “As long as the fried pizza places in DC”

    Stop the study, I just found the source of the flatulence. ;)

  • I’m thinking it must be Pizza Paradiso too – I remember that place as having the best pizza in DC.

    I lived in DC during the ’95 government shutdown (on Macomb St. near the Cathedral). I recall my very nice landlady was in shock when she was deemed an “inessential worker.” Her job was at the VOA,I believe, she set up cultural exchange programs with the Russkies. Soirees for visiting ballet companies, embassy parties. The sort of job that was tailormade for a WASPy 1955 Vassar graduate from New England. I was a lowly slave laborer in a big law firm, ordered about by lawyers all the livelong day, and so rather jealous of her for having such a creampuff of a job, but I did not share her opinion that the Republic would go to hell in a handbasket if she wasn’t organizing tea parties for visitors from Moscow and Kiev.

    I also knew someone at HHS whose shrink convinced her that her parents had been part of a secret cult and had sexually abused her – she discovered all that due to “uncovering repressed memories.” Then she began seeing cult members all over the place. She became convinced I was a cult member. The longer she was in treatment, the crazier and more paranoid she became. She told me that one of her co-workers put vodka in an empty milk carton and sucked it through a straw all day.

    And the two of them worked on the Clinton healthcare plan.

  • “And the two of them worked on the Clinton healthcare plan.”

    Now it all makes sense Donna! :)

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