Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shut Down Seems Imminent..

For those watching the news the last few days will know that the likelihood of a government shutdown, the first in 15 years, is very high. As I type this the budget talks are ongoing but a breakthrough is looking more and more unlikely all the time..So what is the real risk of a government shutdown?

Here is a short and brief list of the major effects of a government shutdown:

  1. The majority of government workers will be sent home without pay (with many unlikely to receive back-pay when the government re-opens).

  2. If you have recently filed your federal tax return its possible your tax refund will be delayed in its delivery.

  3. The nations many National parks and other government run facilities (like the Smithsonian) will also be closed to the public as the employees that work at these places will be sent home.

  4. If you have recently applied for Social Security, your payments could be delayed, though current recipients will likely still receive payments.

  5. Finally, the most troubling and angering to me, military personnel will not be paid for the time they serve during the government shutdown regardless as to whether they are here at home or in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So because the nations two political forces, Democrats and Republicans, can't agree on a budget to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year (just 6 months mind you), our fighting men and women will have to go without pay...Do that make any sense to anyone?

And as expected, both the GOP and the Democrats are blaming each other for the seemingly imminent shutdown and there is plenty of blame to do around.

First, the Democrats failed to pay a Federal budget for 2011, instead deciding to leave that fun political chore to the new GOP-controlled House of Representatives (which such bills have to be started).

Secondly, the GOP asked for some $100 billion in cuts which has been referred to by Democrats are unacceptable and would be detrimental to the fragile US economy.

Thirdly, President Obama has been almost completely uninvolved in the whole process other than hosting the budget talks this week and scolding both sides for not getting the budget done.

However yesterday, the President surprised when commentators when you appeared unannounced to the routine White House Press Briefing to discuss the budget talks. Now for the record I think his statements were mostly right on. One point he made that rang very true was that regardless of the blame game we see in Washington D.C. right now, the American people will likely blame both sides for any ill effects of the shutdown so pointing figures is pointless. He also made a good point that the GOP bill passed by the House that would give them a few more weeks for negotiation is no way to run a government and the time for short term solutions is over.

But the President seems to forget his role in this budget crisis. Regardless of whether he wishes to actively participate in the talks or not, his actions (or in this case inaction) will be judged by the American people and for the moment it doesn't look like he will fair well if a shutdown does happen. The President hosting the talks is hardly a real sign of leadership and just looks like a show for the press. The President has just as much to loss from a shutdown as the GOP and he had better figure that our sooner rather than later or he will quickly find himself having to justify his inaction next year and I don't see how he will be able to excuse it away...

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