Blog Post

Beware of Government Shutdown Hype

capitolThe government shutdown is nothing to panic about. It's happened 17 times before and has never lasted longer than three weeks.

According to the Washington Times, the government officially shut down early this morning after the House and Senate failed to reach an agreement on fiscal year 2014 funding. Republicans are refusing to pass another Continuing Resolution (CR) which includes funding for the vastly unpopular ObamaCare, and Democrats are refusing to sign anything that excludes it.

Because neither side was able to work out a deal, the government will now begin the task of shutting down all nonessential services such as the National Park Service which oversees hundreds of national parks. During the last shutdown in 1995-96, this resulted in closing 368 national parks and visitors were unable to visit historic sites such as the monuments and museums.

Those hoping to secure visas or passports will also experience delays.

However, essential services will remain open and operational. National Public Radio (NPR) reports that these services include the military, border control agents, air traffic controllers, the FBI and the TSA.

The president and members of Congress cannot be furloughed but will have to decide which members of their staff to keep and which ones to furlough.

Social Security checks will continue to be sent along with Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, but these benefits could be delayed by up to two weeks if government funding is not procured by November 1.

The U.S. Postal Service will also continue to operate normally.

Although most people are not aware of it, the government has shut down 17 times since 1976. As NPR reports, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan each dealt with six shutdowns during their terms in office, lasting anywhere from one day to 2 1/2 weeks.

"The three-week shutdown that lasted from Dec. 16, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996, ranks as the longest in U.S. history," NPR reports. "As a result, about 284,000 federal workers were furloughed, and around 475,000 essential employees went without a paycheck, although they were eventually reimbursed."

Even though the media tends to blame members of the Republican party for these shutdowns, the public is much more willing to spread the blame around. A Pew Research poll conducted on September 19-22 found 39 percent of Americans blaming Republicans for a shutdown and 36 percent blaming the president and another 17 percent blaming both political parties.

Everyone is a loser in this situation, with the taxpayer getting the worst end of the deal. The 1995-96 shutdown cost taxpayers $1.4 billion by the time it was resolved.

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