Monday, September 30, 2013

Are You Ready? What's At Risk in Tuesday's Threatened Shutdown

Posted By on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Since 1977, there have been 17 shutdowns of the federal government, according to the Congressional Research Service, so veterans of federal agencies have a pretty good idea what may in store this week when the U.S. government officially begins a new fiscal year Tuesday, Oct. 1, without a budget in place. Most shutdowns have lasted no more than three days, some lasted less than a day. And most people remember when the U.S. government was shut down for 21 days from Dec. 16, 1995 to Jan. 5, 1996, the longest government shutdown in history.

But it's important to remember who would stay home and who would need to report to work if a stopgap spending measure is not put into place by the U.S. Congress.

Perhaps most importantly the new state-run exchanges for the uninsured will open as scheduled Tuesday, Oct. 2, even if there is a government shutdown. Much like Social Security or Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act is a permanent entitlement that isn't subject to annual funding by Congress.

Seniors will continue to get their Social Security benefits because it is a mandatory spending program.

Unemployment benefits will also continue to be paid as the Employment and Training Administration continues to provide its essential functions, according to the Department of Labor.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, are funded through the Recovery Act and those funds don't expire for another year. However, no money would be available to pay the WIC benefits. But because WIC is administered by states, some state funds might be available.

Federally-backed loans are in jeopardy. President Barack Obama has said federal loans for rural communities, small business owners or families hoping to buy a home would be frozen.

Taxes will continue to be collected but tax refunds are expected to be delayed and taxpayer assistance would come to a halt.

David Cox, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees is estimating that between 800,000 and 1 million federal employees could be furloughed.

That would include the following: national park employees, pesticide regulators, labor statisticians, renewable energy researchers, investigators of health care fraud and abuse, budget analysts, federal auto inspectors, actuaries in the Social Security Administration, trainers at Homeland Security, attorneys at the Department of Justice and public affairs officers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

And yes, the President would be paid during a shutdown.

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