I was just forwarded an email from a government employee where they were told to “take everything you have out of the fridge and take your personal items like plants home.” They are preparing for a shutdown. How long will it last? My bet is everyone is back to work on Tuesday. However…I also bet we play this game of chicken again at the end of the year.
It is irresponsible on everyone’s part to shut down the government at midnight because Congress has failed to do their job. Appropriating funds for the Federal Government is the only TRUE job these Members have to do…and they have a year to do it. And every year they can’t seem to get the job done. What really angers me is that this budget, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, should have been passed by September 30, 2010. They have been failing to do their job for 7 months. In fact, 7 months ago the Congress and the Administration were all controlled by one party. So…couldn’t they have passed a budget?
We do need budget cuts, we do need to revamp non-discretionary spending (entitlement programs), and we do need to find saving in DoD. But the only thing we are doing by continuing to pass one and two week continuing resolutions and focusing spending cuts on discretionary funding is avoiding the real problem.
It’s kind of like if you suddenly realize you are spending $5000 more a month than you bring home and that is largely because you can’t pay back the interest on your credit cards and you can’t afford your mortgage. So, you decide you are going to tighten your budget and you cut funds from your grocery and dining out budget. You can’t make up $5,000 a month out of your grocery budget (can you?) You have to change the fundamentals…get a cheaper house, focus on paying off the credit cards. It is unrealistic to continue to focus on the very small portion of the government budget that is discretionary funding.
The President put together a Commission that examined our fiscal situation and came up with a set of recommendations to reduce the debt. Nobody loved the recommendations because they were painful across the board. But, they are a good starting point. Why aren’t we having debates around this?
So we shut down the government and at some point we get agreement on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. But what next? We only have 5 months left until we have to pass the FY’12 budget. We are going to be back in the same exact position unless they start getting real and dealing with the issues.
(For the Record, I am working on Monday..I don’t work for the government).
Oh yes..and Members of Congress and other “essential” government personnel will get paid during the government shutdown. In fact, 60% of the government workforce is deemed essential. There is legislation introduced in both the House and Senate that would prevent Members of Congress from getting paid during a shutdown. The legislation is widely supported and I suspect most Members will return their pay to the Treasury or donate it to Charity.