America Survives Obama’s Phony Government Shutdown
A Nonevent Amidst Media Frenzy
The sun came up on Tuesday. Americans with jobs went to work. Children went to school. Dogs barked at the mailman.
Seniors received Social Security checks. Veterans received benefits. Active military personnel received paychecks.
The FBI was on the job. Air traffic controllers were at their posts. The Federal Reserve printed money. The IRS collected taxes.
Tuesday came and went after dire predictions of national calamity from long-winded politicians and an overwrought media. The government slowdown – it is not a shutdown – may linger, but the nation will survive.
Here, courtesy of Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation, are some basic facts about President Obama’s government slowdown. Keep it handy next to the television listings and the sports page. This will be over soon.
Q. Is such a funding lapse unusual?
A: No, such a lapse in funding would be neither unusual nor catastrophic. There have been 17 funding gaps just since 1977 ranging in duration from one to 21 days. Under applicable federal law, operations and services would continue for those essential for “the safety of human life or the protection of property,” as well as those programs funded through multiyear or permanent appropriations.
Q: What actually happens during a government “shutdown?”
A: The truth from the experience of prior shutdowns, applicable federal laws, Justice Department legal opinions, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directives, is that crucial government services and benefits would continue without interruption. In fact, as the Justice Department said in a legal opinion in 1995, “the federal government will not be truly ‘shut down’…because Congress has itself provided that some activities of Government should continue.” Any claims that not passing a continuing resolution (CR) will result in a “shutting down” of the government “is an entirely inaccurate description,” according to the Justice Department.
Q: Would retirees and veterans get their benefit checks?
A: Yes, mandatory government payments such as Social Security and veterans’ benefits would continue to be paid. During a prior government shutdown in 1995, 80 percent of Social Security Administration employees kept working because they were considered “essential” to making benefit payments.
Q: Would national security be hurt by a shutdown?
A: No, national security, including the conduct of foreign relations by the President, is considered an essential function that would continue.
Q: Would we still be able to travel?
A: Yes, the government has said during prior shutdowns that the air traffic control system and other transportation safety operations are essential to the safety of the country and would continue to operate.
Q: What happens to federal law enforcement activities?
A: During a shutdown, all federal law enforcement and border control functions continue to operate. So the FBI would continue to make arrests and conduct criminal investigations. The U.S. Border Patrol would continue to patrol the American borders. The federal Bureau of Prisons stays open, and convicted criminals are not released.
Q: Would there be any problems with the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department’s supervision of our financial system during a shutdown?
A: No, all activities essential to preserving the money and banking system of the U.S., including borrowing and tax collection, would continue. So the IRS would keep on collecting the tax revenues that help pay for the operation of the federal government.
During the course of his career, Walker has worked in Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, and Phoenix. He served as a reporter in Chicago, a press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, and in numerous positions in New York in corporate and financial services communications.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.