Government shutdown will have an impact, but it's not the end of the world

Published: Wednesday, April 6 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

However, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, introduced HR 1297, the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act, which would ensure that members of the armed forces would continue to receive pay in the event of a shutdown. While the bill is currently in committee, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, also introduced the legislation in the Senate.

While the word shutdown implies that all government buildings would be shuttered and Washington would come to a halt, that wouldnt be the case for many other government services.

The New York Times reports that Medicare payments would continue, although MSNBC states that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services might have to contract out the task of reimbursing doctors to private-sector contractors.

During a shutdown, employees whose salaries are funded through annual appropriations will be furloughed, unless their work qualifies as excepted to continue to work. Excepted employees will receive pay for hours worked when a budget or continuing resolution is signed. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Congress will determine whether non-excepted" employees will receive pay during the furlough period.

Members of Congress and President Barack Obama, as of now, are considered essential government employees and would continue to be paid during a shutdown. However, according to USA Today, some on both sides of the aisle are trying to cut off their own pay during a shutdown. The Hill reports that each member and committee office will decide which of their staffers are essential and who can be furloughed.

While Obama warned Wednesday that a government shutdown would hurt the economy, The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Reserve would remain open with normal staffing during a shutdown.

In another Wall Street Journal story, William ODonnell, a U.S. government bond strategist at RBS Securities Inc., said it was possible a government shutdown would have no harm, no foul, citing three other shutdowns — in 1981, 1984 and 1990 — as proof that their impacts were easily forgotten.

Already people are suggesting ways to work around some of the problems a government shutdown would create.

While Jake Tapper at ABC reports that the IRS will stop processing tax returns filed on paper during a shutdown, a Forbes blog post suggests E-filing to get around the problem.

In case their parade is canceled by a shutdown, The Washington Post reports cherry blossom parade organizers in Washington are discussing alternative plans. In another article by the same paper, alternative tourist destinations are suggested to help tourists who may have to skip the government-run sites in D.C.

Additional questions for federal workers, tourists or the general public are answered in a Washington Post breakdown on the impact of a government shutdown.

For government leaders, the real question of the possible shutdown so far has been where the public will place the blame.

Should Democrats, who didnt pass the budget when they had the chance, be blamed? Should Republicans, who keep demanding budget cuts, be blamed? Or should the president, who has so far failed to negotiate a solution between the two sides, be blamed?

Following a meeting among the president, Reid, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Tuesday, the president said he would invite congressional leaders to the White House for more negotiations until a deal could be reached. Despite the pledge, however, The Washington Post reports that Obama is spending the day giving speeches in the Philadelphia suburbs and in New York.

However, Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, announced on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that Boehner and Reid will continue negotiations at the White House Wednesday night.

While Boehner warned Republicans Tuesday that Democrats would win if the government shut down, he also told The New York Times that Obama has failed to lead on this year's budget, and that the Houses goal is to prevent a shutdown while making real cuts in spending.

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