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Feds Prep For E-Gov Shutdown 290

Posted by samzenpus
from the down-and-out-on-capitol-hill dept.
dcblogs writes "If the federal government is shutdown midnight Friday, the feds plan to stop updating government Web sites that aren't delivering essential services. 'Most Web sites will not continue, only those Web sites that are part of these accepted activities would continue to operate,' the senior White House official said Tuesday. 'Accepted activities,' refers to essential, life and safety-related government services. The IRS, however, will continue to accept tax returns filed electronically and to process payments. 'We need to be able to collect the money that is owed to the U.S. government,' the official said. Paper-based returns won't be processed."
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Feds Prep For E-Gov Shutdown

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  • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @08:26AM (#35743280) Homepage

    The federal shutdown is only affecting 800,000 employees out of a few million uniformed servicemen, civilian employees and contractors. I would be surprised if it's even 25% of the federal workforce.

    What this shutdown means is that until the budget goes through, the feds aren't buying any new toys and those considered "non-essential" to the mission of their agency (or department, in some cases) will be treated like dead weight.

    Ironically, this would be an excellent time for an audit of the federal labor force and contracts to see who should be permanently let go and/or have their contract torn up.

  • Re:I only wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @08:30AM (#35743310)

    it was permanent. This shutdown only brings a temporary respite to the oppression the American people suffer at the hands of it's own government.

    Yes, my work on automation software flight plan management for the FAA is very oppressive to you. Douchebag.

  • by Skater (41976) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @08:38AM (#35743376) Homepage Journal

    The real truth of the matter is, the Democrats while in power refused to pass a budget for this fiscal year. Worse they refused to even submit one to the floor all because they were afraid of the ramifications of doing so before the election. In other words, if they had submitted their budget they would have had to campaign with that large deficit number hanging over their heads.

    I note the new Congress has yet to pass a budget either. What's their excuse?

  • by Skater (41976) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @08:41AM (#35743420) Homepage Journal
    800,000 people in the US suddenly not working and not getting paychecks isn't a serious issue to you?
  • Re:So ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07, 2011 @08:45AM (#35743442)

    You'd expect that, but a human being is generally not what economists would call a "rational actor". Even people expecting a refund often put off filing until the last few days, because doing your taxes is a huge pain in the ass and "expecting a refund" usually means "makes very little money and therefore can't afford to hire a tax preparer".

  • Re:Either way.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ICLKennyG (899257) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @08:48AM (#35743470)
    As the budget situation now is significantly worse than 15 years ago, it seems unlikely that Civilian employees will be made whole after the fact. I love the republicans talking about 'where are the jobs' and then deciding to furlough close to 4 times the number of workers that were added in the latest jobs report over the sum of ~$7B. If the government is closed for a week, that's less than the interest on the National Debt.

    The Active Duty military people will be forced to remain, even those that fulfill office type jobs, and will be unpaid until a resolution comes.

    This is worse than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. This is arguing deck chair arrangement theory.
  • Re:I only wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @08:50AM (#35743490)
    Here's a handy little tip for you. As long as you are able to complain about being oppressed by a government in a public forum, you aren't.
  • by darjen (879890) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @08:51AM (#35743500)

    Essential reading:

    http://www.constitution.org/afp/brutus10.htm [constitution.org]

    The liberties of a people are in danger from a large standing army, not only because the rulers may employ them for the purposes of supporting themselves in any usurpations of power, which they may see proper to exercise, but there is great hazard, that an army will subvert the forms of the government, under whose authority, they are raised, and establish one, according to the pleasure of their leader.

  • Re:Either way.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @09:00AM (#35743576) Journal
    It would certainly be political suicide, unless carefully phrased(you can do a lot of crazy stuff to the troops in the name of supporting them, if your spin-fu is good); but, arguably, not paying the civilians might actually present more of a practical problem.

    The more heavily active-duty a soldier is, the greater the degree, and likelihood, that some or all of his basic logistical necessities(food, housing, some degree of medical care) will be being taken care of by Uncle Sam. They might not like not being paid; but they won't be starving in the street(and, because it's the military, just leaving qualifies as desertion...)

    Civilian employees, by contrast, with a few possible exceptions in isolated bases or research facilities or the like, are generally only seeing wages+benefits, and are responsible for turning those into food, housing, etc. on the local market. You won't have to go too far down the pay grade before you start running into civilian employees who are not too many weeks away from being unable to make minor little payments like 'rent' and 'groceries'. Quitting wouldn't necessarily be a good career move; but it isn't something their employer can do anything about, and they won't have much of a choice about at least moonlighting elsewhere, if not quitting entirely and job-hunting, if they can't keep food on the table.
  • by LanMan04 (790429) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @09:10AM (#35743682)

    Actually? No, it is not a serious issue. 800,000 GOVT employees *not working* is status quo, is it not?

    You know, I get really fucking sick of this attitude. I can't tell if you're joking or not, but [rant mode on].

    I used to be a Fed working for an Inspector's General office (as an IT guy), which recovered funds to the tune of FOUR TIMES our operating expenses/budget by performing financial criminal fraud/audit investigations. Yes, we paid for ourselves 3 times over. I went to the office every day and WORKED like any other private worker. So did my auditor and investigator co-workers.

    Hell, I do LESS work/have more downtime now as a programmer at a small, privately-held IT company than I did as a Fed.

    I still have friends at that office (6 years later) and they'll pretty much ALL be furloughed due to a shutdown. So yeah, this does affect real, normal people with families and bills to pay.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @09:24AM (#35743826)

    The federal shutdown is only affecting 800,000 employees out of a few million uniformed servicemen, civilian employees and contractors. I would be surprised if it's even 25% of the federal workforce.

    What this shutdown means is that until the budget goes through, the feds aren't buying any new toys and those considered "non-essential" to the mission of their agency (or department, in some cases) will be treated like dead weight.

    Ironically, this would be an excellent time for an audit of the federal labor force and contracts to see who should be permanently let go and/or have their contract torn up.

    Of course such an audit would be performed by the same "non-essential" employees that just got furloughed. Also a shutdown has nothing to do with the fed buying new toys. The military and homeland security are the ones that gets all of those new toys and their budgets are still in place. No, what it means is that the government lays off a bunch of employees, quits paying contractors, quits making transfers to state budgets for federal grants, quits accepting new people into social security, quits processing passport requests and stuff like that. All of those things combined are just a fraction of the budget, but impact real people's lives.. The forced shutdown is a symbolic gesture, made by those who won't be impacted by it.

    Congress has one main job right now -- to come up with a budget for a fiscal year that are half way through. If they can't do it, then maybe they should look towards themself with regards to non-essential personnel.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @10:11AM (#35744294) Homepage Journal
    This isn't really about cuts though, if the Tea Partiers actually gave a shit about deficits(here's a hint, they don't), then they would be chopping programs like Social Security and the DoD. However since either of those would be politically unpopular, what they have done instead is focus SOLELY on programs that benefit Democrats(Research, most PhDs aren't republican, NPR, family planning etc). This has nothing to do with cuts and everything to do with the Republicans being puerile and bullying everyone they don't agree with, no matter what the long term consequences for the nation are.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @10:22AM (#35744436)

    Ya if deficits were the real issue then it would take some real work to deal with it. That would involve two things:

    1) Some cuts to big spending programs. I'm not saying that smaller programs can't share in cuts as well, I mean some rather significant cuts need to be made, however before bothering with that you have to agree to include big ones. Arguing over a couple billion in small programs while refusing to talk about the DoD's $700ish billion is useless and irresponsible. If you really care, you've got to make cuts in multiple places, and the DoD has to be one just because of the size of the budget. That doesn't mean slash and burn, get rid of everything, but it does mean trim off things. Like maybe we could get along with only 8 aircraft carriers instead of 12, as an example.

    2) Increase taxes. There is no reasonable way to cut spending enough to close the deficit down without gutting the government to a problematic level. For better or worse, there are plenty of things the government does that people rely on. That means income must increase and that means higher taxes. May not need to be that drastic, if coupled with cuts, perhaps just a restoration to levels around a decade ago but an increase will be needed.

    If you are serious about deficit reduction, you'd be talking those things. That they aren't means they aren't.

    Now I should note, I'm completely ok with the view that we shouldn't be doing that right now. The economy is still weak, those things could cause it to tank, and economic growth creates solutions of its own to the deficit as revenues increase. It is valid to say "The government can borrow extremely cheaply right now and now isn't the time for cuts or more taxes. Leave it as is for another year, we look at it again when things are better off."

    However it really is one or the other. You either are ok with it for now, and need to not whine, or you are willing to make more broad cuts and increase taxes.

    This bullshit that is being pulled of "We want to get tough on it, but only tiny programs and NO TAX INCREASES EVAR!" is stupid and shows pretty clearly that deficit reduction is not what they are after.

  • Incorrect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zingledot (1945482) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @10:37AM (#35744656)

    To say it screws everyone equally is wrong.

    Most higher income citizens couldn't care less, personally, about nearly all government programs. They still may support their funding and existance, but they wouldn't personally be hurt much if programs went away entirely.

    So no, it is not 'equal screwing' in reality, only politically - and in the end who's politics wins or loses is meaningless.

  • by jnaujok (804613) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @10:40AM (#35744690) Homepage Journal
    You're confusing the Discretionary Budget and Mandatory Spending. Continuing Resolutions can ONLY affect discretionary spending. Things like Social Security, medicare, medicaid, welfare, etc. are all part of the mandatory expenditures, and can't be cut in budget bills, only by passing new laws to revise their growth rate. Right now, the mandatory spending exceeds revenues, so whether the Tea Party wants to cut them or not (and they do) there's no way to touch them, and they would amount to a nearly $200B deficit *on their own*.

    So, even if they zeroed all discretionary budgets -- kind of like a total shutdown of all the things you're hearing demagogued at the moment -- they still would be running a deficit.

    America is broke, and it's getting worse. Bernanke is printing money like a crack addict with a credit card. Inflation is on pace to top 20% by next year. If you're not scared to death by the economics of the situation, then you're not paying attention. Go read what happened to the Wiemar Republic.

    $40 Billion, $70 Billion, none of it will make a difference. Call me when they're cutting Trillions from the budget.
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @11:20AM (#35745236) Journal

    Exactly this whole issue rests on the shoulders of House Democrats who under Pelosi should have drafted and FY2011 budget passed it and sent it to the Senate. This was all political calculation on their part. They already had lots of heat on them from Obama Care's disgraceful arm twisting method of passing and did not want to have to go into elections with a budget to answer for as well. The Republicans really need to do better at pointing this out.

    Democrats control the Senate and the Presidency has House Democrats drafted a budget it would most likely have been passed, and certainly could have gotten through the Senate and across Obama's desk. So all you little liberals out there if your favorite program sees its 2011 budget cut, if your pet project is furloughed in a shutdown its really not the Republicans you should blame, its your own pathetic leadership. Now FY2012 is another matter.

    The sad truth is at present debt levels and given what for the last 30 years have been apparent political realties non of this matters. It all amounts to a little less butter for some and little more for someone else. None of the real problems will or can be addressed. The world will keep on financing this nonsense because they don't know how to do anything other than by US Treasuries and would rather pretend the US is credit worthy than deal with the fact its not, which in a sick way makes it credit worthy, since its known the debt can be rolled over. Meanwhile rather than demand a balanced budget the citizens of this country will go on pay instead a hidden (VERY REGRESSIVE) inflation tax to the oil barons abroad and export the rest of our remaining wealth to the Chinese because they are the only ones who can produce goods cheaply enough Dollars will still buy them.

    This all ends in another depression and eventually World War sometime in the future maybe 40 years or so.

       

  • by buzzn (811479) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @01:19PM (#35747204)

    Since WWII, Federal revenue has been 18-19% of GDP, no matter what the tax rates were. This suggests that increasing taxes will not significantly increase the amount of money that the federal government collects. If increasing taxes will not increase the percentage of GDP that the federal government collects in revenue (which historical figures suggest is indeed the case), I do not see how increasing taxes will help reduce the deficit.

    You are not being factual here. This shows federal revenue varying [taxpolicycenter.org] from 14.4% to 20.4% over that period. That's quite a bit different than 18-19%, which sounds flat. It was not flat.

    The highest personal marginal tax rates did vary significantly, from 94% in 1945 to 35% today, but this does not shed light on the subject as it's only one of a large number of contributing variables.

    Of particular note, the revenue as a % of gdp dropped from 20.6 in 2000 to 14.9 in 2009. That's quite a significant drop. Combine that with increased apparent spending, which went from 18% of gdp in 2000 to 24% of gdp in 2010 (primarily because of large drop in gdp in 2008-9 due to the recession), and you have a problem.

    Back to your point. You were implying that there is a causal relationship between federal receipts and GDP, but your data was faulty. If no such link exists, then increasing taxes will indeed reduce the deficit. In fact, this is strongly suggested by the opposite case in the last decade: we have been cutting taxes, and federal revenue has fallen. Therefore, increasing taxes (within reason) will increase federal revenues, and won't affect GDP.

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