Monday, September 30, 2013

USA TODAY: Some Q&A: What Does a Gov't Shutdown Do?

It appears that the Federal Government is shutting down (because the GOP continues to try and blackmail the gov't with removing funding for the Affordable Care Act).  So, what does that mean? 
CBS News provided many questions and answers for everyone, and there's a link to a guide from CNN at the end of this email.
 - BTW, all Federal government employees will be furloughed without pay  (that includes both of us).

What causes a shutdown? Under the Constitution, Congress must pass laws to spend money. If Congress can't agree on a spending bill — or if, in the case of the Clinton-era shutdowns, the president vetoes it — the government does not have the legal authority to spend money.

When was the longest shutdown in history? The longest was also the most recent: from Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 5, 1996. That's 21 days.

What's the difference between a shutdown and a debt crisis? In a shutdown, the government lacks the legal authority to spend money on non-essential services. In a debt crisis, the government is mandated to spend money — but doesn't have the legal authority to borrow the money to spend it.

Are the two related? Only by timing, which is somewhat coincidental.
 Has the United States ever defaulted on its debt before? No.
NOTE: Would Congress continue to be paid during a shutdown? Yes.

WHAT IS AFFECTED? 
- Federal agencies will close: 800,000 Federal Employees will NOT be working.
 - IRS and EPA will have skeleton crews
-368 National Parks, all Smithsonian Museums and zoo CLOSED   national parks. Or to national zoos. Or to national museums. They'd all be closed. That's 368 National Park Service sites closed, millions of visitors turned away. - ALL  Smithsonian Museums will BE CLOSED. (Nat'l Zoo, Air and Space, Holocaust Museum, etc
- Military Employees (per CNN):  The good news (for you) is that the men and women in uniform would continue to keep you safe. The bad news (for them) is that they'd be paid in IOUs until the shutdown ended
 
What will happen to veterans receiving compensation for service- or combat-related wounds and injuries? The Department of Veterans Affairs said if the shutdown continues into late October, it will run out of money for compensation and pension checks to more than 3.6 million veterans who rely on the money to support themselves.
Can I still get a federally backed loan? Maybe not. 
Will I still get my mail? Yes. The U.S. Postal Service functions as an independent business unit.
Can I get a passport? Maybe, but hurry. The Department of State says it has some funds outside the annual congressional appropriation. "Consular operations domestically and overseas will remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations," the department says.

National Park campers already in the parks? They will be given two days to leave.
Will the Patent and Trademark Office be open? Yes. The office can continue to operate off user fees and other funds for at least four weeks before having to shut down.
 Would food safety inspections continue? Mostly. The Food Safety and Inspection Service would continue all safety-related activities. FDA would LIMIT food inspections.  
Will disaster response be affected? No. However, all "non-disaster" grants — such as state and local preparedness programs — would be postponed, the Department of Homeland Security says.
Will e-Verify be affected? Yes. The government system to allow companies to voluntarily check the legal work status of its employees would be shut down.
Would a shutdown put the brakes on implementing the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare?" No. The state-run exchanges for the uninsured would open as scheduled Tuesday. "The marketplaces will be open on Tuesday, no matter what, even if there is a government shutdown," President Obama said Friday.
 Why not? Like Social Security or Medicaid, Obamacare is a permanent entitlement that isn't subject to annual funding by Congress
Can I get a new or replacement Social Security card, benefit verification statement or earnings record correction?No.
Would seniors continue to get Social Security benefits? Yes. Social Security is a mandatory spending program, and the people who send those checks would continue to work under a legal doctrine called "necessary implication."
Will I be able to get food stamps? Yes
Federal school lunch program? will continue with lunches until near the end of Oct.
Will deceased veterans still be able to get a burial benefit? Yes.
Will my tax refund be delayed? Possibly, especially if the taxpayer files a paper return.
  What about taxpayer assistance? Walk-in assistance centers and telephone hotlines would be closed.
  I'm being audited by the IRS. Would a shutdown affect me? Yes. The IRS will suspend all audit activities.
 Would active-duty military be furloughed? No. All active-duty military are essential and should report as scheduled Tuesday, the Department of Defense said Friday.
 Will civilian defense workers be furloughed? About half of them, or about 400,000, will be sent home,
Would active-duty military be paid during a shutdown? If a shutdown lasts longer than a week, the Pentagon might not be able to process its payroll in time for the Oct. 15 paychecks
Could federal employees simply volunteer their services? No. A 19th-century federal law forbids volunteers because the government doesn't want them filing claims for back pay after the shutdown is over
How much money would a shutdown save taxpayers? Most likely, it wouldn't. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says shutdowns cost money in terms of contingency planning, lost user fees and back pay. A government estimate after the shutdown in 1995-96 estimated its cost at $1.4 billion.
 What effect would a shutdown have on the economy? Economists say even a short shutdown — of three or four days — would begin to shave decimal points off economic growth. A sustained shutdown of three or four weeks "would do significant economic damage," economist Mark Zandi told USA TODAY.
 MORE INFO ON CNN.COM: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/23/politics/government-shutdown-daily-life/index.html

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14