A breakdown late last week in closed-door negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House on funding the federal government makes it increasingly possible that Congress will not agree on a long-term funding resolution or another temporary measure by an April 8 deadline, aides from both parties said.Just when you thought the idiots in Washington couldn't get any dumber, they rise to the occasion, as if to say, "we can actually do something that much dumber than what we have previously accomplished. No -- really. We can. Just watch us."
That means that the threat of a government shutdown — which had receded in recent weeks because of congressional approval of several stopgap funding measures — appears to be back on the table.
Problems with the negotiations became public late Friday, as revealed in comments from Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the top three House Republican leaders. The apparent breakdown followed a Tuesday meeting among staff members for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and representatives of the White House budget office on a possible deal for funding the government through the end of the fiscal year in September.
Democratic aides said talks had been underway for nearly two weeks between Boehner’s staff and the White House budget office, with steady progress leading to an agreement that the two sides would meet halfway between the $61 billion in cuts approved by the House and Democrats’ preference for maintaining current spending levels.
This is just idiotic. Government spending accounts for about 20% of US GDP. In addition, it is a facilitator of many important transactions. Shutting it down would be a huge shock to the economy --- at a time when we can ill afford it (as if there is a time when we can afford this lunacy). Here's something that people in Washington seem to forget on a regular basis: C+I+X+G = GDP. It's called the GDP equation. The "G" stands for government. Since the equation uses addition, taking out one of the primary variables will probably lower the total (unless one of the other variables increases sufficiently to make-up for the loss).
Let's look at some of the primary areas effected by such blatant stupidity:
The best guide for what consumers of government services can expect came in the last shutdown—the longest in U.S. history. After President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress couldn't agree on spending, the government twice ran out of funding: from Nov. 14-19, 1995, and from Dec. 16, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996.
About 285,000 federal employees were sent home without pay and a further 476,000 were forced to work without pay. Clinton said on Jan. 20, 1996, that the shutdowns had cost the federal government a total of $1.5 billion, or $2.1 billion in today's dollars—a number that does not include indirect costs. (The total nonmilitary federal workforce has fallen from 2.92 million at the end of 1995 to 2.84 million at the end of 2009, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.) When the shutdowns ended, all employees had back salaries paid.
• A shortage of federal funds eventually led 11 states and the District of Columbia to stop providing unemployment benefits when they couldn't or wouldn't fill the gap with their own funds. Other benefits were slowed or stopped entirely: Veterans stopped receiving some payments, including insurance death claims and checks for education provided by the GI Bill. Delays hit recipients of federal welfare programs and adoption-assistance services, along with children in foster care and in the Head Start early childhood program. The Bureau of Indian Affairs closed, cutting off assistance payments to 53,000 people, while about 25,000 American Indians also stopped receiving checks for oil and gas royalties.
About 200,000 Americans were left waiting for new passports after the State Dept. stopped processing applications. Visa applications by foreigners were left unprocessed, stacking up at a rate of 20,000 to 30,000 per day.
• Government economic reports that investors watch closely were stopped. Reports that might be blacked out this time include the January trade balance on Mar. 10 and data on February housing starts and building permits, due out on Mar. 16.
• Work on 3,500 bankruptcy cases was suspended. About half the employees of the Small Business Administration were placed on furlough, leading to 260 small businesses not receiving loans each day, according to a White House summary written in January 1996.
• National parks, national forests, and other federal monuments and museums were shut. In January 1996, Bloomberg News reported that kayakers and rafters were cut off from the Colorado River because they couldn't get permits.
• While federally funded health care such as Medicare continued, the National Institutes of Health stopped accepting new patients in clinical research programs. The Centers for Disease Control halted surveillance of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and influenza.
• The government temporarily closed the Federal Parent Locator Service, which helps find parents who are delinquent in making child support payments.
And there's much more in this detailed report.
At a time when the phrase "self-sustaining recovery" is gaining traction and credence, the yahoos in Washington want to completely derail the recovery. Great.