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Politics

Government 'Shutdown' Would Affect Only One in Four Workers

April 5, 2011 - 6:00pm

Despite apocalyptic scenarios painted by some members of the Democrat-media complex, a U.S. government "shutdown" looming on Friday would affect barely one in four workers.

But it's President Barack Obama's call.

If Obama follows the direction set by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in previous shutdowns, less than half of the 2.1 million federal workers subject to a shutdown would be forced off the job.

And since 600,000 Postal Service employees and 1.6 million uniformed military personnel are exempt from a shutdown, fewer than one in four workers on the federal payroll would be affected.

In an analysis of the situation, the Associated Press reports that Social Security checks would still go out. Federal courts would still be in session. And virtually every "essential" government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, would remain open.

And, of course, Congress would continue to meet in an effort to break the funding deadlock that triggered the "shutdown" in the first place.

"That's the little-known truth about a government shutdown. The government doesn't shut down," the report stated.

Though Republicans were widely blamed for the government shutdown in 1995, current polls show the public evenly divided -- blaming Democrats as often as it blames the GOP.

Florida's Republican congressional delegation is unapologetic about standing against Democrats who did not even submit a budget for this year.

"We are in this situation because Democrats did not pass a budget last year when they controlled the House, the Senate and the White House.Now, Democrats are unwilling to come to the table on real spending cuts," said David Rivera, R-Miami.

"The House passed a budget for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year 45 days ago, and the Senate has yet to pass a bill.The only ones to blame for any interruption of government operations will be those who are unwilling to heed the call of the American people for fiscal responsibility.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, said, "Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are pushing this nightmare scenario closer to reality through their steadfast refusal to pass any long-term bill that recognizes the need to get our fiscal house in order.

"I hope that as Friday nears, Senate Democrats will abandon their commitment to the status quo of record deficits and debt, and work with us on a responsible bill to cut spending significantly and keep the government open.

Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, observed:

The truth is that we now find ourselves in a situation where, if Washington continues down the current path of deficit spending and adding trillions to the debt, our standard of living will decline and our economy will eventually collapse.

Year after year Washington has continued to add trillions of dollars to the national debt. As a first step toward reversing this trend, I dont think it is unreasonable to cut one penny out of every dollar in federal spending for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011.

"But a lot needs to be done to put our nation on a much sounder, more financially stable course and Im still hoping we can all work through this issue together.

Speaking for the Democrats, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York blamed the tea party movement for "pulling House Speaker John Boehner further back and back and back" from a budget compromise.

In Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Obama warned that a shutdown would set back any economic recovery, but former U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney discounted that notion.

"Main Street would do quite well if you shut down a good portion of the government, not including defense, homeland security and payments on the treasury debt," the Florida Republican said.

Feeney added, "Republicans don't come to this with totally clean hands." He noted there were "enormous increases in discretionary spending and a dramatic expansion of entitlement programs" during the Bush administration.

"But while the GOP had a bad record, the Democrats have proven no situation is so bad that liberal Democrats can't make it much worse," Feeney observed.

Assuming Obama follows the lead of his predecessors during a shutdown -- and he hasn't indicated he would do otherwise -- the air traffic control system, food inspections, Medicare, veterans' health care and many other essential government programs would run as usual, the Associated Press found.

The Social Security Administration not only would keep sending out benefit checks but would continue to take applications, AP reported.

National parks would be closed to visitors, but park rangers tasked with "protecting life and property" would remain at work.

Selected historic monuments in the Washington, D.C., area, such as George Washington's Mount Vernon home would stay open.

In Florida, NASA could take the biggest hit. In the 1995 shutdown, only 7 percent of the agency's workers stayed on the job, according to Clinton administration data.

The AP speculated that NASA might face widespread furloughs, which could interrupt preparation for the space shuttle Endeavor's planned launch on April 29.

Among the most shuttered agencies would likely be the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where just 4 percent of employees went to work in the 1995 shutdown, and the Department of Education, where only 11 percent of workers continued to clock in.

And depending on your perspective, furloughs at the Internal Revenue Service could be a good thing. Tax refunds would be delayed, and audits would be sidelined.

"From a practical perspective, shutdowns usually aren't that big a deal," the AP concluded. "They happened every year when Jimmy Carter was president, averaging 11 days each. During President Reagan's two terms, there were six shutdowns, typically of just one or two days apiece. Deals got cut. Everybody moved on."

--

Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

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