Recently, the media was flummoxed about the current government shutdown and subsequent reopening that ensued after five Republicans failed to pass the spending bill. Republicans were blaming Democrats and Democrats were blaming Republicans, but one detail that has escaped everyone’s notice was that a government shutdown is absolutely meaningless unless it surpasses the length of time of one paycheck.
According to a memo sent by Mick Mulvaney, the government shutdown would not have resulted in a loss of pay for any of those furloughed. In other words, a government shutdown is equipollent to paid time off. However, one problem is that, although everyone receives payment, the government cannot pay any of the furloughed employees until the shutdown ends. This means that the only fear for government employees who had been furloughed is that they will needed to live without a paycheck for the entire period of the shutdown. For some, this could prove dire if the shutdown surpasses the length of time for one or two paychecks.
A second reason a government shutdown means absolutely nothing is that the departments that normally close down are nonessential and affect only a small percentage of people’s day-to-day affairs. According to Consumer Reports, unless you were receiving certain welfare payments or planning on sightseeing, the government shutdown would not have affected you. Even further, most of the welfare programs would only cease when the money ran out, which is an indeterminate amount of time considering the lack of public information on the spending habits of those departments. In additament, the only people who would immediately be affected by a government shutdown would be those applying for loans, since the department that reviews them would be furloughed.
However, not all welfare and government programs shut down during a shutdown. The USPS is still operational, as is Medicare and Medicaid. Further, essential government programs are still functional. In fact, 83% of the government is still operational during a shutdown. So, not only is the overwhelming majority of the government still operating, but most of the departments that did shut down would not have immediately affected anyone other than those who planned on sightseeing or applying for loans, the latter of which is a small subset of the population. The former can certainly find other things to do, since not even every government location was inaccessible during the shutdown.
Therefore, a government shutdown is essentially meaningless unless you happen to be the small subset of the population who is applying for a loan. It is not until a government shutdown outlasts a pay period or two and welfare funding for certain departments that serious problems begin to emerge. So, the next time the press becomes frenetic over a government shutdown, remember that the truth is that a government shutdown has few immediate implications.
John Paluska graduated from Regent University with a B.A. in Strategic Communications and a minor in Theology. He founded the social media news aggregation platform Soaker News in 2012 and has previously worked for Amplify Communications to boost publicity for the American History Film Project. John is an Orthodox Anglican and loves reading the bible and writing about politics and culture through the lense of Christianity.
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Publication date: January 25, 2018