With a government shut down looming near the light of day, many people are wondering what might happen when the government shuts down.
First and foremost, it's important to remember that a Government Shutdown isn't really a "shutdown". The government will never officially shut down until it's either disowned or it falls into the ground. Even then, there are no guarantees.
No, a government shutdown is more like a government delay or national Forlough day. They don't even really shut down any agencies, they mostly just do a temporary layoff of employees, which can inhibit different services. To be even more blunt about it, it's just another showboating event. Voters don't want the government to continue wasting their tax dollars, and they especially don't want to pay MORE taxes for the government to waste.
Now, with Obama having such poor approval ratings, and 2012 elections getting closer and closer, the GOP is jumping onto the Libertarian band wagon and shouting that the government needs to cut it's budget WA-A-AY down. The GOP is hoping to curry favor with voters, for appearing to give a damn. They've already proposed a $60 Billion cut in the spending budget, which Obama has official decided is not enough to spend. He would much rather pretend they cut the budget, and then raise the debt ceiling higher and higher until they're wallets are all fat to the brim. Because of Obama's opposition, the majority of democrats have decided to join in the ruffian play and avoid any cuts. To retaliate, most of the GOP has strapped on their ugly faces and are suggesting that they won't vote for any bill that doesn't cut spending a lot. The dems won't vote to pass any worth while budget cuts, and the GOP won't vote to pass anything that raises the budget without including massive cuts. So they appear to be at a stale mate.
In the past, government shutdowns have always been brief, because they only need to cut a deal with each other and move on to end the shutdown. When the dems feel they have enough spending money, and the GOP feels the cuts will at least look like they make a difference, then the shutdown will be over with.
All this in-fighting will be what congress likes to call the "reason for the shut down", while the real reason is because they have spent too much money in the past decade. Neither party is exempt from that spending, and both parties deserve the blame, as much as they will point the fingers every where away from themselves. The cost of War, Homeland Security, the TSA, ObamaCare and other defense or social services, our government has become bankrupt. Until they raise the debt ceiling, or find a way to save money, they won't be able to plan out anymore spending.
Now, if this all isn't confusing already, let's get to some even more mind boggling issues, such as; What happens during a government shutdown?
The first thing that happens, is that both parties threaten a shutdown and deny that they want one. The second thing that happens, will be a public address and plenty of press releases announcing that the government will be temporarily shut down. Now, there may or may not be several "extensions" passed to fund short intervals to keep the government running, though it depends on how much the GOP really wants to show off. If they want to appear strong to their voters, they won't sign any extensions either. Though it really doesn't matter to them outside of looking good, because congress gets paid whether the government shuts down or not.
Once the dog and pony shows gets to it's peak, and the government actually has a "shutdown", they will temporarily lay off workers from non-essential government services. They will start with the most non-essential first and then move up the ladder. The longer the shutdown, the more employees will be temporarily let go of.
Then congress will make a big show in the medias trying to get voters on their side. The democrats will try to make it look like the GOP want to cut social security and all sorts of touchy subjects, and the GOP will emphasis the run away spending of the democrats. Once they've decide which side has a better chance of gathering favor with voters, they will cut a deal that gives more status to the more popular party. It will include some budget cuts and some spending, and will likely raise the debt ceiling anyways. How much of any of these actions, depends on which side is more popular. Once the deal is cut, the shutdown is over and everyone will go about their business.
So what does our government deem essential and non-essential?
To be as factual as possible, no congress has ever officially released their shutdown plans to the public. Why? That's a question you should be asking. Though even without public disclosure we can get a good picture of what services will be deemed non-essential, from the former shut downs that have happened with Reagan, Carter and Clinton. Each congress does things a little differently, to appear unique, though the apple never falls far from the pyramid...
~Essential Government Services~
Air Traffic Control
Department of Justice
Department of Commerce
Federal Building Security Officers
Thats right, the government deems that congress is not expendable and the IRS will stay open to accept payments from everyone who owes this year. Despite what Obama threatens, it isn't likely that Social Security will stop running or that Airplanes will have to fly blind. Many government services that are deemed essential, could still lay off a small percentage of their employees if the shutdown goes on long enough. The truly amazing part, is that the government sponsors NASCAR, and it's not likely to cut the budget on their sponsorship. Now the question "how essential is NASCAR?" goes across everyone's mind.... Besides the assurance that NASCAR won't stop, you can also relax about the post office, as it is privately funded. They might still go through layoffs to save money while the trend is in, but it won't have anything to do with a government shutdown.
~Non-Essential Government Services~
Tax Returns (if you haven't done it now, you'll have to wait!)
EPA (only some very basic employees will get to stay)
NASA (only basic employees stay)
The National Mall
White House Tours
IRS Taxpayer Hotline
Department of Labor
Department of Education
Selective Service System
National Forests and Parks
National Institutes of Health
Toxic Waste Cleanup Crews
Washington Monument Elevator
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Yes, even though the IRS will stay open to accept payments, if things go on long enough, Tax Returns will be delayed. So if you haven't already filed, it might be to late to avoid waiting even longer then normal, in this overly busy tax season. Some of the first federal employees to go will be National Park and Forest workers, which will mean most of them will be closed for the shutdown, not that it will stop the regulars from treading through the parks anyways. Next will be NASA, the EPA and yes, the Washington Monument Elevator (No rides!). Most federal museums will also take a forced holiday and prevent anyone from enjoying them. Some of these are obviously non-essential services, while others are questionable, such as Toxic Waste Cleanup? Isn't toxic waste a hazard to life and property? Some of these services will only stop performing a few services, such as the National Institutes of Health. They will only stop accepting new patients to experiment on, the rest will stay operational. Other services will only lay off small percentages of non-essential employees, and will likely not feel the shut down as much as others.
No one really knows the exact ranking these services get on the Essential vs. Non-Essential, though some are more obvious then others. The whole idea is to cut down on services that aren't necessary for a while, so that no more money is spent then necessary. Most of the money will be spent anyways, meaning the shutdown really was pointless, as most of these non-essential employees will be paid back pay and congress will continue to run up the bill while they argue over how to spend and cut at the same time. All the while, they had several weeks off for vacation and campaigning over the last month and could haven't taken care of business then. Which would have saved a lot of transportation and housing costs for sending out hundreds of politicians to vacations, and would have made it less obvious that a shutdown is just a big show.