Well, they finally got their wish: the Tea Party extremists have shut down the government. It sure didn’t take them very long to start celebrating, either. Several D.C. reporters have tweeted about the boozing going on amongst GOP Congress critters, some of it since Saturday night. Meanwhile, here in the real world, we are facing some very serious problems that come along with this unnecessary and ludicrous crisis.
While Congress will continue to be paid – and I know I’m not alone in my rage about that – actual federal workers are looking at unpaid furloughs, even some Congressional staffers. Starting today. The president of the American Federation of Government Employees, J. David Cox Sr, told reporters that:
“Fifty percent of our members may be locked out of work altogether during this shutdown. Half will be expected to continue to work without a paycheck.”
Some government employees will be expected to work without pay… but not Congress.
There are 2.1 million federal government employees. The ones who are considered essential (or, as the new terminology goes, “excepted”) will be expected to keep working without pay for the duration of this nonsense. That includes border patrol, security, first responders and others that are important to national security, health and safety. Air traffic controllers will stay on the job, without pay. Prisons, bank overseers, those who operate our power grid and who guard federal property will also work for free. But don’t worry, they will get retroactive pay once the government shutdown is over. Whenever that is.
We are told that Social Security and Medicare checks will not be affected… yet. But new applications for these and for disability will not be processed in a timely manner. Military personnel on active duty will not be required to take the furlough (and will continue to be paid thanks to a bill signed last week) nor will USPS employees.
But almost everyone else can expect to feel some degree of impact. Even you. Below is a list of what to look forward to in this new Tea Bagger utopia: (h/t to The Washington Post)
Federal government shutdown affects:
- Are you a Veteran? Don’t expect the VA to be able to process benefits. There will be no appeals hearings for them, either. And if this lasts more than a few weeks, Veterans may not see their disability checks. That could affect more than 3 million Veterans.
- While Social Security checks will continue, if you need to replace a benefit card or get some advice on filing for disability or have a hearing scheduled, you are out of luck.
- Several regulatory agencies will either shut down or run on a skeleton crew including the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Wage and Hour Division and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The Justice Department’s civil cases will be suspended. The Department of Homeland Security will suspend the E-Verify program which will not allow employers to check on the immigration status of potential employees.
- If you rely on the Department of Housing and Urban Development for vouchers, you are out of luck. Though the local public housing authorities say that they have enough funding to provide assistance through October. After that you’re on your own.
- Have a question about health? Better call your doctor because the National Institutes of Health will not be manning their hot lines. They are also not accepting new patients for clinical research. Oh, and you better forget about that flu shot, too. The NiH has to suspend its seasonal flu program. And if there should be an outbreak of something while the government is shut down, we better call in Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo because the NiH probably won’t be able to look into it.
- Need to get a passport? Better be quick about it because the State Department will only keep passport agencies open as long as they can fund them. Once they run out of money, though, passports will not be easy to get.
- If you are on unemployment, you could be looking at losing those checks if this madness continues for very long.
- Are you are a farmer? Well, forget receiving your payments or any loans. This affects my family as we are part of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Just look at what happens when you click on this link to explain what CREP is. Yeah. Thank you, Tealiban.
- Thinking of starting the paperwork on that small business? Forget it. The Small Business Administration will cease processing loans. Hold that great idea for a while.
- Oh, and let’s not forget the National Park Service. National Parks and Wildlife Refuges will be shuttered starting today. Nobody will be allowed in the gates and anyone who is staying there now will be given 2 days to vacate the premises. This might sound like one of the least terrible effects of this insanity but think again: the businesses that rely on the National Parks – hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. – will be impacted by this. Their customer base will be gone. Way to screw up the economy, GOPers. It is particularly heartbreaking for Yosemite National Park, which celebrates its 123rd anniversary on October 1st. Nobody will be in the park today to observe this milestone. I can hear Ansel Adams crying right now.
Those are some of the major effects of the Republican-created government shutdown. There are more… oh, so many more. There is a complete list of the affected agencies at the website of the Office of Management and Budget. It is a long list.
The Republicans are fond of pointing out what we will or will not leave to our children and grandchildren. “Oh noes, the government debt!” they wring their hands and wail. But they really don’t give a damn what we leave to them or they wouldn’t be ostriches when it comes to climate change. Or when they display such craven partisan gamesmanship as they have been ever since “that black man” became president. They are affecting the economy in ways that may very well continue for decades to come. But the young people are onto them. As one young lady – a friend of my daughter – wrote on Tumblr:
“Can I just say how utterly absurd it is that our government can just give up and stop working because it doesn’t want to compromise, but everyone still claims it’s we, the younger generation sitting here with our jaws dropped, who are self-centered, entitled, and bratty? How in the ever-loving jumping jesus did old people come to this conclusion?”
How, indeed? Because if you ask me (and so many others) the real children are in Washington, D.C. drinking a toast to their utter lack of principles, compassion and ethics. Can we please fire them all next year?