Friday, October 4, 2013

Reason #305: Shutdown

So look: the shutdown is bad. I'm against it happening. But this blog is about finding the positives, and--as tough as that can be sometimes--damn it, that's what I'm gonna do!
  • First, anything written into "permanent law", like Social Security, is separate from the normal, year-by-year (or month-by-month, these days) budgetary process, and thus is still funded, as not to do so would be against the law.
  • Still at work: EMTs, air traffic controllers, VA hospitals (generally), food inspectors, federal prison guards, FEMA, and as we learned yesterday, law enforcement. While none of them will receive a paycheck until the shutdown is over, they are still earning their normal pay and will get it all in a big lump once the shutdown is over (which raises the question of how much money a two- or three-week shutdown is really saving).
  • Note to people demanding that Congress stop receiving paychecks as well: one, for most of them their federal paycheck pales in comparison to their other sources of income. Two, congressional pay is one of those aforementioned separately-funded things, so their not getting paid wouldn't impact the budget process. Third, the only reason the whole "retroactive pay" thing happens for people like the capitol police is because they're deemed essential workers; if Congress were deemed nonessential then it would be illegal for them to keep working, and they'd never be able to pass a budget. Lastly, even if all this were amended, it wouldn't go into effect until the next congressional session and wouldn't help right now anyway.
  • Hilariously, one service deemed nonessential is the processing of gun licenses--meaning that we've finally found the one thing more sacred to conservatives that getting guns in the hands of as many people as possible. The border patrol also has to hold off on hiring new agents, so there goes the illegal-immigration argument.
  • Obamacare, the thing this is all about, is now in effect and has not been hindered at all--because it's mostly a reorganization of private insurance plans, which have nothing to do with federal spending. Even the Medicaid expansion and tax incentives come out of permanent funding.
Last but not least--for all it's cost us in other ways, government spending is actually down right now; for the first time since the Korean War. Politicians spend so much time bickering about reduced spending versus higher taxes that we can all lose sight of the shared goal of lowering the deficit--and even if nothing else can be said about it, this does lower the deficit.

Further Reading

There’s much less time to avoid a government shutdown than you think

How Congress Will Still Get Paid in a Government Shutdown

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