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“Shutdown” or Essential Services?

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What does a government shutdown mean? The term alone is meant to send Republican politicians running in fear to the closest spending bill. But are we really facing a total shutdown of the federal government or something more benign — like a snow day — where “non-essential workers” (insert snickers here) stay home?

Denise Fantone of the General Accountability Office (GAO) told CNNMoney that “When we go into a funding hiatus, this restricts activities … and agencies are going to trim back the number of people who actually show up at the office. The first thing any agency is going to do is pull out their list of essential personnel.”

That answers the main question. No, the total government does not shut down.

Looking at past examples — because a shutdown is not unusual — the Heritage Foundation says it’s more like a slowdown. Vital services continue, such as:

Providing for national security, including military, law enforcement, border patrol, Coast Guard Conducting foreign affairs Continuity of mandatory benefit payments Protecting life and property Power grid maintenance Air traffic controllers Inpatient and emergency outpatient medical care and Veterans Administration care and other vital services

Social Security checks are still mailed, and the mail is still delivered.

During the 1995 slowdown, the flash point that sends shivers down politicians’ spines, 800,000 federal workers were furloughed. That was out of about 4.4 million.

Federal spending has put a crushing debt of $30,000 on every American household. At the current rate it will increase to $36,139 by 2020. America has reached a tipping point that could send the greatest nation in the world — already frighteningly indebted to China — into a financial meltdown, the likes of which may never have been seen before. And unlike Greece, there is no one to turn to for a bailout.

The stand-off that could lead to a slowdown is President Obama’s and the Democrat-led Senate’s rejection of cutting less than two percent from federal spending. The House of Representatives passed a budget that strips $61 billion out of $3.8 trillion.

Neither President Obama nor the Democrat Senate majority have offered alternatives to decrease the out-of-control and wasteful spending.