Compromise is hard; that is a lesson we learn the hard way very early on in life. Eventually we learn the give and take and manage to make do. This is something our government is still working on and the politicians have been bickering about again. A shutdown seems inevitable.
The landslide victory for conservatives in the mid-term elections of 2010 should have been a crystal clear message to balance the budget and fast. Budget cuts hurt, of course, but just as Americans have had to cut extras and tighten their purse strings, the same should happen in Washington, D.C. Current levels of spending are unsustainable. We all know our economy is teetering on the verge of collapse, and yet our government officials continue to disappoint us.
How does a government shutdown affect me?
According to the OPM (Office of Personnel Management), as of April 8, funding for government agencies and programs expires. This will not impact my life in a notable way.
I am not a federal employee, so I do not get any time off, as some 800,000 federal employees will, according to the OPM. They will not be paid during this time.
The IRS will stop processing tax refunds. My refund may be delayed, but, of course, taxes will still be collected from my paycheck. We may have to wait to pay off some of those bills we were expecting to get rid of, and our vacation will be held up
There can be no trips to any National Parks, the Smithsonian Institute or the National Zoo, as their doors will be closed for business in the government shutdown.
What Can I do to Weather the Storm?
Continue to cut your own expenses wherever and whenever possible. Think twice about unnecessary spending and make saving a mandatory part of your personal budget. Talk about your financial situation as a couple or family and compromise if necessary to keep your head above the water. Plan ahead for the future, if possible, by creating an emergency fund of a couple months worth of earnings. We can learn from the mistakes of our federal government.
What Governmental Services Will Continue?
Since the U.S Mail service is paid for by its customers, it will continue to operate. Social Security payments, which are already funded by payroll taxes, will be carrying on as usual as well.
Our firefighters, border patrol and prison systems, seen as “essential services,” will also continue to run as usual. The police and military will continue to work without a hiccup. Although the military will not receive their paychecks until the government resumes. A bill was introduced this week to ensure their pay but has not passed yet. The Federal Reserve will continue to run and print money.
Elected officials’ and representatives’ work will be suspended, but ironically, they and the president will continue to get paid.
And lastly, we can expect to hear about the government shutdown nonstop from our news media 24/7, just in case we need to be reminded of what is not happening and not getting done. We will also see lots of finger pointing and blaming going on back and forth.
One good thing that will come about is that our country may be saving some money in the process by not functioning at full capacity.
The U.S Office of Personnel Management ( April 5, 2011) Guidance and Information on Furlough accessed at http://www.opm.gov/furlough2011/
The Wall Street Journal (April 6, 2011) Government Shutdown: What to Expect accessed at http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/04/06/government-shutdown-what-to-expect/?mod=e2tw