Barring a last minute agreement, the federal government will shutdown all services it deems “non-essential” on April 9th, making this the first time such a shutdown has occurred since 1995. While the Republican legislators, in particular the Tea Party faction, threaten to freeze federal services if they are unable to push through the full gamut of their anti-worker spending cuts (totaling $61 billion), it is important to note that the representatives of capitalism’s other major party, the Democrats, failed to pass a budget during the last Congress where they held a majority. In general both the Democrats and Republicans have a consensus on the need to slash vital social programs and pass the burden of economic recovery and budget solvency onto the backs of working people; they merely disagree on tactical questions of how quickly this has to be done.
The American Party of Labor condemns the political games being played by the Democrats and Republicans as each looks out only for their own short-term electoral gain and is prepared to ruin the livelihoods of millions in the process.
For the convenience of our readers, we provide below a summary of what the federal shutdown would mean in concrete terms for working people in the U.S.
* Over 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed. Members of Congress and the President, who make between $170,000 and $225,000 annually ($400,000 for the President), will continue to be paid. Most Congressional staffers will be furloughed.
* The IRS won’t process paper returns. Tax audits will be suspended. The Federal Housing Administration will stop guaranteeing loans. Loans to small businesses will be suspended.
* New applications and first time payments for Social Security, Welfare and Food Stamps won’t be processed.
* Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals and other service providers could be delayed.
* Rural development and farm credit and loan programs will shut down; it is uncertain if food safety inspections will continue.
* Applications for passports and visas won’t be processed.
* National parks will be closed.
* Payments to those in the Armed Forces will be delayed.
* In Washington, D.C., vehicle registration, driver’s license renewal, trash pick up, applications for building permits and library book checkouts will halt.