What Stops If the Government Shuts Down
What Stops If the Government Shuts Down

If Congress does not come to agreement on a budget by Tuesday, the federal government will shut down.

A government shutdown would mean vacations to national parks canceled, FBI investigations stalled, and medical experiments abandoned. It could mean worse hardships for military families than they already endure.

Civilian military employees would be sent home. The people who process new Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid applications would stay home. A person who already gets Social Security would still get it, but a new 62- to 66-year-old would face a delay starting the program.

In Washington, D.C., it could mean trash piling up in the streets, and people unable to get marriage licenses, work permits, or other documents. D.C. is unique in the nation. Its local budget requires congressional appropriations. 

President Obama has the power to declare certain federal services essential and exempt them from a shutdown. Disaster aid is exempt. So is “Obamacare.”

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Service members would get IOUs, but still be required to report for duty. It’s common for soldiers, sailors, marines, and their families to live paycheck to paycheck. No check can mean an empty pantry, an empty gas tank, or a punitive late fee on an unpaid bill.

Reyna Levine of the National Press Foundation described a multiplier effect of losses from a shutdown. Workers on military bases or at big federal agencies stay home. The coffee shop nearby sells far fewer muffins. The bakery that supplies the muffins loses income, she said. That would happen across the country in big and small ways.

Stalled scientific research and law enforcement investigations represent losses impossible to quantify, according to Levine. 

Buildings would have to be closed safely, with climate control in place and security patrolling them, said Levine.

When the government shut down in 1995 and 1996, it cost Americans $1.5 billion dollars, according to Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan group.

During the 1995–1996 shutdowns, 7 million people were turned away from 368 closed national parks. That represents a cost as well as an inconvenience, according to George Condon, a White House correspondent for National Journal. “It’s hard to get reservations for these parks,” said Condon. For a popular park, people have to reserve a stay months in advance, take vacation time, and then drive the family there, he said. To find the gates closed is a real loss.

The beleaguered USPS will continue to deliver mail. It’s not part of the government. In addition, U.S. citizens’ travel plans may have to be changed if they do not yet have a U.S. passport as no one would be able to process a passport application. 

There are future losses. Government contractors would not get paid. It amounts to forcing them to front a loan to the government, according to Stan Collender, national director of financial communications at Qorvis. They could respond to that by insisting on higher interest rates or late fees in future contracts, he said.

This time around, unlike the 1990s, no one is saying they want a shutdown, yet no one is really negotiating, said Collender. “They are using the budget process, but it’s not really about the budget,” he said.

  • Ruben Lopez

    well, just WTF will continue to function seeing as how the gov’t is still collecting revenue from all of us?!!! I want the gov’t to shut down in a bad way because it is no longer “for the people, by the people” but instead “for the corporations, by the corporations.”

    • Kid Rob

      Nearly all of the taxes the government collects goes to service the 17 TRILLION government debt. They use it to pay the interest. Not to mention, the money you are using is also debt, that’s the reason its called a Federal Reserve NOTE – Note being the keyword. So, you see, its called “Slavery by Usury”, and you are indeed a slave.
      Now, I know what you are asking. If all the taxes go to service the debt, how does the government fund itself? Simple. It borrows all the money from the Federal Reserve, the privately owned for profit central bank. Why do you think they keep raising the debt ceiling? Because if they didn’t, the government couldn’t borrow more money to keep its doors open.

  • Kozmo

    Pointless fear mongering. The fact that ANY of those things could occur illuminates precisely what is wrong with society – we’re too reliant on a federal government to provide for us. This is NOT what was intended for this nation. I say shut down the federal government. Not temporarily while they figure out how much more debt to accumulate to keep the circus running. Shut it down PERMANENTLY and let the state’s govern as was originally intended. We will be better as individuals and as a nation!

  • stonehillady

    What about the IRS ? They say it is a government agency but, I think they work for the Federal Reserve ? The FED’s is the one who collects the taxes to lend to the Government right ?

    • jumpingamma

      no the United States is in debt to China, we no longer are using our taxes we use the money we borrow, and that is coming to an end. the government has sold us, and China says no more till your debt is paid, so we are borrowing for everyone one else, but we can’t keep borrowing when the bureaucrats spend it faster than it is paid Obama has promised 342 billion to Detroit to stop bankruptcy and another 6 billion to Chicago where do you think this money is coming from, our cities and states can’t pay for anything and yet they expect us to pay higher taxes and they pay nothing. seem fair ?

      • Kid Rob

        You don’t understand. No disrespect to you, but ALL your paper money is borrowed into existence. It is borrowed into existence at interest. The only money that is not borrowed into existence is Gold, Silver, and Platinum, which is discovered and minted into existence, with gold being the lawful money of the nation. And while diamonds, rubies, and other precious gems are valuable, they are not legal or lawful money, but are valued in terms of lawful and legal money. A Federal Reserve Note is not a dollar. It is not defined legally as a dollar. It is officially defined as “obligations of the United States”. Obligations are something you are bound to, such as repaying a car loan or mortgage note. Yes, the United States has borrowed money from China, but that amount is miniscule compared to the amount borrowed from the Federal Reserve, which prints ALL your U.S. paper money – since 1913.
        Obama will borrow from the Federal Reserve the 342 billion for Detroit and the 6 billion for Chicago.

    • Kid Rob

      The IRS is not a government agency and many court cases where individuals were in court over taxes brought up the notion in their briefs that the IRS is a government agency where the US prosecutor denied the IRS is a government agency, but noted that the United States would be the proper party. The Federal Reserve is owned by the N.M. Rothschild family of Great Britain, who were key in creating the current apostate state of Israel. You are a debt slave. You are given a slave number at birth now. It is your identity number, and brands you a slave for life.

      • stonehillady

        Yes, this is true, and the CIA works for them as well, as ALL wars are Banksters Wars.

  • allenebooth

    Does this Amtrak trains will stop dead on the tracks?

  • Doug

    China buys Treasury bills just like Social Security buys Treasury Bills.
    Default on the debt and default on everyone on Social Security, the
    single largest holder of American debt on the planet…period.

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