Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the federal government shutdown edition

The federal government of the United States is officially shut down as of midnight last night. In this post, I am going to attempt to explain how we got into this situation, what it means and what agencies are affected. I will then share some personal stories of people who will be most immediately affected.

800,000 people are expected to lose their paychecks and the shutdown could potentially cost the nation a billion dollars a week. 

A billion. 

Congress has one primary function in the government, which is to authorize spending bills. Money simply cannot be spent by the federal government without being given permission by the legislative branch.

Darkness looming over the Capitol.
Congress failed to pass spending bills.

The main issue of contention currently is that there is disagreement over The Affordable Care Act. Congressional Republicans want the program defunded (some of them want it completely obliterated), and the Democrats refuse, and all spending bills have essentially been held hostage because of debate over a law that isn't even at issue. The ACA was passed in 2010 and the constitutionality of most it was upheld in 2012. The largest provisions of it were delayed until today, and ironically they will take effect today even though Congress has arrested all other spending bills, because the funding under the law is not contingent on annual spending bills. Insurance exchanges nationwide opened today.

So, yes....this fight is simply a pissing match over an already settled law. Or a temper tantrum. Or whatever.

Effectively, this means that the flow of money stopped as of midnight for all federally funded programs, with the exception of those deemed necessary either because of public safety, have independent funding sources or because they are covered by some special protection. Anyone deemed non-essential is not permitted to work, and not even allowed to volunteer to work without pay. Most agencies are affected.

I could list which agencies are affected and how, but there are so many to list. CNN has compiled a list of them, and how they are affected. It is important to point out that employees of agencies who are still being required to work, such as active duty military, may not receive paychecks if the shutdown lasts longer than a week.  Half of the civilian military contractors are immediately furloughed. SNAP continues, WIC federal funding ceases and will depend on state administration. Federal school lunch funding is expected to last through the month. All National Parks are closed immediately. D.C. relies heavily on funding for even the most basic functions, and during the last shutdown citizens living there didn't even have their trash picked up. Again, I could list everything, but it's a long list. Please click the link for more information.

It is important to point out that those elected to Congress will still receive their paychecks during this process, as they are protected under the 27th Amendment.

Their paychecks are protected, but those at their mercy cannot be guaranteed that they will be able to put food on the table next week.

Hooray, America.

Come on Congress. Do your job. We can't even stop paying you. High five, Uncle Sam.

I asked my fans to share their stories of how this will affect them directly.

The government shut down has furloughed both my dad and stepdad. I hate to think of the monetary issues that both of them (and their respective spouses/families) will suffer. I think the larger issue here is the one that affects us all. We, the people, have pretty much lost all faith in the democratic process. We have lost faith that those who we have elected into office will fight for the people instead of their party. In all honesty, I feel like we have a lot of self blaming to do here. I don't remember a time, but I remember reading of times when people were so patriotic and proud of their country and grateful for the opportunity to have a say, that they took it very seriously. The world I know now cares more about what celebrities are doing in Hollywood than what lawmakers are doing in their respective states and in Washington. It's sad to me. I may be alone here, but I don't mind that Congress continues to get paid during a shut down....as long as they are working. Crossing their arms, stamping their feet, and preemptively saying "NO" to any legislation that they don't like is NOT working. That, I do have issue with. I feel it's time to stop beating a dead horse. A horse that has died 44 times already: once with the reelection of a President who's platform was almost entirely comprised of the issue at hand, and 43 other times in the House and Senate. There is a time to fight for things and there is a time to accept your losses. The time for the latter is now. Otherwise, my two dads and several other people across the nation have to find out how to sacrifice more than they already do, in order to make compromise for the shoddy partisan power plays going on before us. It is my sincere hope that those who find themselves not making a paycheck today can trudge on, put one foot in front of the other, and to eliminate hate from their hearts while they do. It doesn't solve the problem and will only make them miserable. I'm talking you, Dads. I love you, you'll figure it out. I'm happy to help where I can. Washington may not care about you right now, but I do. I hope everyone affected has someone who does. - Razorblade Brain

We survived fulough, if you call surviving robbing peter to pay paul and coming out so far behind that you can't catch up before Christmas. Yesterday we took out a loan to consolidate. Luckily, we qualified for extra we can sit on in reserve until pay kicks back in. My husband is deemed essential, so he's working without pay right now. The old hands say this happened a lot during Clinton's administration and once all was said and done they did get their back pay. And his car just broke down. He has to take leave--unpaid because of the shut down--until we get it fixed or the girls and I have to stay at home with no transportation (not even public or anything in walking distance). Oh, yeah. And my military wife friends cannot stop bitching about the commissary and how this personally inconveniences them. We're the lucky ones. - Anonymous

  • I've already been laid off due to budget cuts at the beginning of the year. I have two degrees, yet here I am living off child support. My ex is in the military and they were told their checks would be delayed. He was also supposed to be coming in to see his girls. If the check is delayed, Idk how I'll pay my bills... let alone catch up... it's also Halloween coming up and it's my kids' and I favorite time of year. And they won't get to see their dad. Government has greatly impacted my life if you can't tell. I've literally thrown up today in fear. I've applied at every fast food place in town and it's "we don't want to hinder you from future endeavours" because of my degrees. The next one... I'm putting down that I never even graduated high school. Idc anymore. I'm so scared. I can't keep letting my kids see me worried and sick all the time.  Thanks for the blog. It lets me know I'm not alone. - Gladys

    • My father's job was affected by this shutdown. He has been working with USDA-APHIS for over 35 yrs. He grew up working in the fields along with his sisters to support his family. He has basically worked his entire life. When he started work with USDA, he started from the bottom without a degree. And he managed to move up in position even against others who did have degrees beyond high school. But it was his work ethic and dedication that advanced him. Which makes me extremely proud of him but also extremely upset that the government has denied him pay. I don't believe it's fair. The text from my mother says that my father's job has been through a shutdown before and was only temporary. Her faith says that this is only temporary also. I believe her. I just don't believe in this government. 
      One last note...I know that the ones who allowed this to happen are sitting on their big, fat checks not knowing what it is like for those who have labored all their lives to make a living. Makes me sick. - Jennifer

      My family is affected by this shut down. My mother works for Norfolk Naval Shipyard and she has already been laid off. They were told to file for unemployment and food stamps after 5 days but that will not be enough to keep her house. She is the only person in her household so therefore she is the only one with a paycheck because of this I may have to move out of my home, take my child out of a school she loves, and move back in with my mother. I will not allow my mother to lose her home because she has always done anything she had to in order to help me and my brother. My brother is not in a position to help her because he has 2 small children and a job that does not pay very well. I am extremely upset that the government would let it come to this. - Michelle

      I am still not sure about whether my husband has a job tomorrow, neither is he.  He is a civilian contractor for the Navy after 15 years of naval service.  Don't get me started on why he is not in the Navy now for that is for a whole other day of TTPMOT.  The company is frantically trying to figure out if the government has already paid their contract for the next fiscal year or part of it.  If not, they are trying to figure out if he is "essential" or "non-essential".  He works in logistics (supply) so without him moving parts around it would impact the military.  So maybe there is a little hope that he can be considered essential, but that is not for me to decide.  If the deadline comes and he is non-essential, then he will be on "leave without pay".  Meaning he can't use his vacation days or sick leave to get paid for the days off.  He can't file for unemployment because he has a job.  Basically, we will get nothing.  We also rely on the VA paying us housing money for him going to school and that will likely stop while there is no budget.  So basically, I am going to be out $5,000/month of money until this budget get passed.  Will he get back paid?  Don't know.  Will I make my mortgage payment in November?  Not sure at all.  But if this last longer than a few days and turns into weeks or month or two of this, we will be forced to file bankruptcy (because like who has 6 months of their salary in savings, right?  I want to meet that person who has kids and a dependent mother).  We won't be able to pay for food, let alone the lights, water and gas.  I make okay money, but it will not cover the spread of our expenses.  We barely make it right now on our two incomes.  We have two special needs children.  Both have Aspergers and one with the added bonus of ADHD.  This child even attends a special class because he cannot function in general education.  We live in a house we can barely afford just so he can be in this class because of his needs.  We knew it was going to be a stretch but he is doing well in this class even excelling.  He is a genius (IQ in 160s) but has the social skills of a 2 year old and he is nearly 9.  This could bring absolute disaster on us when we are barely hanging on in the first place.  - Sally

      So my husband started a new civilian (non military) job today and they said oh so you don't have to come in tomorrow unless you get a phone call...WTF....stupid Congress pass a budget already!!!! Holy crap!!!!! - Angela


  1. I cannot even begin to rant over this whole subject! I think it's absolutely disgusting that average people are punished and those government assholes still get paid. Furthermore the ACA is a GOOD thing. All people need affordable healthcare. Unfortunately the entire system is so screwed up that it will be a HUGE fight from all angles to fix it. Companies should NEVER have had to be in charge of paying people's health insurance. Employers have enough to worry about.So much wrong..too much to fix... so hard... disappointing. *sigh* And I didn't want to rant ... I really didn't.

  2. Somehow this is all supposed to be a government for the people, by the people.

    Did I miss something? Congress is made up of people, right? The 27th amendment needs to be repealed, or those in "power" should redistribute their paychecks.

  3. Can I crawl back into my hole? I was blissfully unaware when I was sick and down for the count.


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