If you’ve been on the federal payroll for at least two years, this is not your first shutdown shuffle.
While you may have been genuinely concerned about not having a job this week, odds are you didn’t spend the entire weekend praying about it. Those who recall April 2011 remember that the same political players waited until an hour before the shutdown was to begin to call it off.
If you’re the “average” fed, you’ve been in government for about 17 years, so you have also been to the brink before. Many times. That may be why federal workers generally take the threat of a shutdown more soberly than politicians and the media who treat each episode as an end-of-the-world-maybe event. That said, feds in the trenches are concerned. And disgusted.
Shutdown threats are used by both political parties, either to get something they want, block something they don’t want or to make (they hope) the other side look stupid. During the last big shutdown (1995-96) Republicans got most of the blame. The economy was booming and the nation rode out the 21-day shutdown almost without a hitch. But times have changed.
According to the latest Pew Research poll something like 39 percent of Americans said they would blame the Republicans for any shutdown. But 36 percent said they would blame the Obama administration. The remaining 17 percent said they would blame both sides.
Regardless of how this turns out, we will do it all over again next month when the U.S. Government technically runs out of money (it will have a mere $30 billion in the cookie jar) to pay bills.
So, while most feds are taking the shutdown threats in stride, how do they feel about the job their elected leaders are doing? Here’s a comment from a long-time Internal Revenue Service watcher-sufferer who thinks it may be time for a third political party:
“Been reading you everyday trying to get some insight as to a possible government shutdown. Unfortunately, you could call this a coin flip. Have no idea even with experience in the last shutdown. The funny part of this is through my anger or frustration I’ve come to dislike, loath, whatever both Democrats and Republicans. I hate being held hostage over party-line differences. I believe this whole mess is over Obamacare. Well I’m pretty conservative and really I didn’t want Obamacare at first but, this is getting out of hand. Many Republicans say it is bad for the country. How do they know this? I don’t and do not profess to know all about it. Wasn’t it about 75 years ago Republicans had hissy fits over the implementation of Social Security? Most of us would agree that it is a good thing now and it would not be broke had both parties not kept writing checks to fund their projects out of this cash cow, and they still won’t except blame.
So why not try the Obamacare plan to see if it is so bad? If it is, can’t it be modified or even repealed if we see it does not work and Democrats should not be so protective of this, if it does not work. Prohibition was repealed. Or why don’t the Republicans get a congressional majority and get it voted out. Why hold us hostage? I think we need a another party to stop the party-line voting in Congress. I went back 20 years and looked at the last third party presidential candidate who really had influence in the election. It was Ross Perot (who got 19 percent of the vote in the 1992 race between President George W. Bush and challenger Bill Clinton). Man, after what I read I was dumb for not voting for him. He has some novel ideas — not paying Social Security or Medicare to those who don’t need it. He also advocated those who have more should then spend more, which I think means should pay more taxes. I don’t know if he would’ve worked as President but he was talking balanced budget and deficit spending 20 years ago. And we are still talking and talking and talking and talking…” — a.k.
Feds learning furlough status as shutdown looms Federal employees began learning Friday whether they can report to work Tuesday or will be forced to stay home if the government shuts down next week. Supervisors are tasked with informally telling employees today whether they are classified as “essential” or “nonessential.”
Lessons from shutdowns past Despite coming close in 2011, there’s hasn’t been a government shutdown since 1996. Frank Reeder, who was director of the Office of Administration of the White House in the Clinton administration at the time, said one of the most challenging aspects was managing the morale of the federal workforce.
Bill Bransford, passionate defender of feds, dead at 66 Bill Bransford, 66, one of the top lawyers in federal labor and employment law and a fierce advocate for federal employees, died Friday after a long illness. Bransford practiced law as a partner at Shaw Bransford & Roth for 30 years. Bransford also served as the general counsel for a host of federal managers’ groups, including the Senior Executives Association, and was a frequent lecturer and commentator on federal employment issues.