Shutdown: A Handful of Winners

It’s been one week since 800,000 feds who had been existing on Furlough Row got word that they would not be furloughed without pay while the politicians decided what to do about the budgets they, the politicians, had failed to approve.

Unlike those true life, tearful scenes when an innocent man leaves prison after years behind bars, the feds are still on probation. They continue to work but the threat of a shutdown is still there.

During the runup to the potential shutdown, some of us folks who cover the federal beat were in demand as temporary radio and TV experts. I lost count of how many I did. I think it was about 30. That included all but one of the DC area local TV stations, plus National Public Radio, BBC and a radio station (twice) in Salt Lake City.

Although people on the streets, in the subway and at Starbuck’s pretend not to notice me, (and some are really good at faking they aren’t impressed) I can sense they do notice me, are impressed and are understandably a little star struck. Who can blame them?


Be that as it may, I haven’t let my temporary new fame go to my head. I have, however, made several important additions to my wardrobe. And I will be interviewing hair stylists over the next couple of weeks.

During most of my radio-TV gigs, the reporter or host would eventually ask “how do federal workers feel about the shutdown, about being used as pawns in a very serious game?” Or words to that effect.

I replied, in my most authoritative yet compassionate voice, that I thought you were hurt, angry, frustrated, furious, etc., that the government might be shut down and that 800,000 of you – nearly half the nonpostal federal workforce – were considered nonessential. That you could be sent home without pay until the issue was settled. That your “excepted” colleagues could run your agency. How does that make you feel, both as a taxpayer with insider knowledge of what government does, and as a government worker who makes it work?

Most Washington-based politicians (and their youthful staffs) are pretty well insulated from real federal workers and what they do. Those in their home states and political districts may be upstanding citizens, worth their salt. But to a lot of politicians, the majority of bureaucrats are bunch of gelded drones (that’s gotta hurt!) who are overpaid, underworked and definitely not appreciative.

So how did you feel during those weeks (months?) prior to the shutdown deadline? Were you angered? Hurt? Has it made you bitter or are you rolling with the blows?

If you want to let us know, we’ll pass it on to Congress which, by the way, could continue getting paid during any furlough. So if you like, let ‘er rip. Tell us whether we should use your name, initials or a pen name (remember, this is a family website). You can contact me at

Meantime, I’m off to get somebody to do something with my eye-brows. They are pointed and my daughter says they make me look angry (my son says I look goofy, and my editor says she can hear stray radio signals when my nose runs) and distract from my message.

We’ve all got problems.

To reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

What do you call a sandwich with two hamburgers, a chicken breast, two slices of cheese, three pieces of bacon, and lettuce, tomatoes, and onion? If you’re Burger King, you call it “The Meat Monster.” According to Toronto Star, it has 1,160 calories, 69 grams of fat, 24 grams of it saturated fat, 2,300 milligrams of sodium and 1.5 grams of trans fat – and is available, so far, only in Japan. Oh, and my cardiologist would call that “job security.”


Cuts and gains: Budget details at a glance
Now that the fiscal year 2011 budget has passed Congress, what is expected to get cut – or get more funds – in the next six months of the budget year?

Bill tracker: Proposals affecting fed pay, benefits
Several bills making their way through Congress take aim at federal employees’ pay and benefits as a way to tighten the government’s budget belt.