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Policy Riders, Not the Budget, Will Shut the Government Down

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Tea Party Demands Government Shut Down As everyone knows, the federal government will probably shut down this weekend. Yet, the reason for the shut down won’t be because of failure to reach an agreement on how much to cut the budget. That agreement was made this morning with Boehner getting over $34 billion in cuts, a larger amount than he asked for a couple of months ago.

According to a list put together by ThinkProgress,

If the government shuts down on Friday night, all government functions deemed “non-essential” will be stopped in their tracks. But “non-essential” describes a wide variety of important government functions, which, if they stop, threaten to harm the nation’s fragile economy. Here are some of the economic consequences that will occur under a Tea-party inspired government shutdown:

– SLOWER ECONOMIC GROWTH: According to analysts at Goldman Sachs, a shutdown “could shave 0.2 percent off the growth of Gross Domestic Product for every week it continued.”

– HOUSING MARKET THREATENED: During a shutdown, the Federal Housing Administration, “which insures and guarantees a large number of single-family mortgages and even more rental and multifamily properties,” would cease operations, blocking home loan and insurance applications.

– BLOCKED TAX REFUNDS: A shutdown would “delay $42.1 billion of refunds to about 14 million U.S. taxpayers,” the majority of whom are middle-class or low-income.

– INCREASED DEFICITS: By increasing the costs of funding the debt, a shutdown could actually increase the federal deficit.

– SMALL BUSINESS LOANS BLOCKED: During the shutdown, the Small Business Administration’s processing of loan applications is halted. The SBA approves about $50 million in small business loans per day.

– INSIDER TRADING INVESTIGATIONS HALTED: At the Securities and Exchange Commission, the shutdown would stop most investigatory activities, “including routine sweeps and examinations of investment advisers and broker-dealers and most work on in-progress enforcement cases.”

– SOCIAL SECURITY ENROLLMENTS SLOWED: While Social Security checks still go out during a shutdown, applications for new enrollment will be processed more slowly and “a huge backlog of applications for Social Security disability benefits would grow even larger.”

– WORKPLACE SAFETY INSPECTIONS STOPPED: At the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which polices workplace regulations, only “‘imminent dangers’ to life or property could be investigated,” leaving 95 percent of workplace complaints unanswered.

– TOURIST INDUSTRY AROUND NATIONAL PARKS HURT: National parks close during a shutdown, while “tourists spend about $32 million a day in the communities just outside the parks,” according to the National Park Service.

– 800,000 FEDERAL WORKERS FURLOUGHED: A shutdown would force the furlough of about 800,000 federal employees, and “leave the Treasury owing them $174 million a day in back wages.”

– STATE BUDGET WOES EXACERBATED: If a shutdown occurs, “the federal money that helps states pay the administrative costs of their stretched unemployment programs could dry up, forcing states to advance the money to keep the programs running.”

And this list doesn’t even include the additional expensive contractor costs to prepare for the shut down and to cover the additional costs in overtime to catch up on the work that sat untouched during the shut down.

No, what will cause a shut down won’t be the deficit, it will instead be the long list of policy riders attached to HR 1 (pdf).

I hardly know what to say about this ideological wish list from the House GOP. It strikes out at virtually every agency that protects ours lives from those who might harm us in order to make a profit. These riders not just defunding Planned Parenthood or preventing the EPA from regulating carbon emissions, the list prevents a whole slew of consumer protections. The list boggles a sane person’s mind.

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Written by Valerie Curl

April 7, 2011 at 2:15 PM

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