Bypassing the shutdown!

Lots of people who understand what a government shutdown is believe the concept is stupid, wastes money, strains resources, creates more problems than it solves and is politically hazardous especially—fair or not—to Republican politicians. Although the shutdown warning flags have been flying for weeks, a number of things—including Hurricane Harvey and maybe Irma—plus, maybe even political common sense, may prevent it happening. More than 100 federal agencies, not just the ones we’ve seen on the nightly news, are involved in Harvey recovery. Ask the people of Houston which feds are “nonessential’ and therefore eligible to be sent home, with the likelihood they will get paid for their enforced time outs.

Most current federal workers have been through at least one shutdown and more than half have been through more than one. The big one—to date—was the 1995-96 shutdown which was a duel between the Clinton administration and the Republican House leadership. Interns were given jobs normally done by career civil servants detailed to the White House. We all know how that worked out.

This time, if there is a this time, the shutdown would happen in a struggle—tax reform, the wall with Mexico, debt limits, etc.—between the Trump administration and Republicans who control the House and Senate GOP leadership. It makes more sense if you DON’T think too hard about it.

Furloughs may or may not be a good idea. But they are targeted and they do save money because workers who don’t work don’t get paid. In previous shutdowns employees got paid, late in many cases, but they were paid for nothing. Literally. Again, best not to dwell on it.

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So what are the odds? We checked with three top lobbyists who monitor good things, and bad, that might happen to members of the federal family. On a not-for-attribution basis they all said the chances of a shutdown, because of recent events, have diminished.

But even during shutdowns, career bureaucrats can sometimes get things done even when they are supposed to be sitting home watching TV. For example consider this from a 30-plus year fed who worked in Congress and the executive branch:

“After 33 years of federal service that spanned nearly a dozen government shutdowns, my thoughts and sympathies go to those who perform the functions that absolutely positively have to get done whether there is a shutdown or not. My own personally most challenging experience came during the extended shutdowns of 1995 – 1996. Actions had to be taken, yet nothing in the government was functioning normally. To complete my mission one cold winter day during the shutdown I found myself standing outside the North gate to the White House passing a formal message to the President through the fence to a White House staff member I had never met but who had agreed after much cajoling to receive this formal transmission.”

“My effort that day to protect a program targeted for destruction produced a successful outcome. I’m pretty sure others also took actions similar to mine but I’ll never know because the information channels of normal government operations were closed. Nevertheless, civilian and military personnel then and in the future will continue to protect lives, liberties and even properly authorized programs during these times when the partisans who run the Congress are doing everything they can to grind the functions of government to a halt. These unsung heroes do the things that must be done. They deserve our sympathy and respect.”

“ My sympathies also go to the taxpayers who are denied services for which they have already paid.” -Been There, Done That

Nearly Useless Factoid

By David Thornton

Armadillos can hold their breath for four to six minutes at a time.

Source: Armadillo Fact File