A Government Shut Down Will Not Affect You (New York Times)

Posted in Economy by americatimes on April 7, 2011
Even the liberal New York Times accepts that we don’t need to worry if the government shuts down:

Federal Departments Lay Out Plans in the Event of a Government Shutdown

New York Times
April 6, 2011

SOCIAL SECURITY The government would continue to make Social Security payments to the 53 million beneficiaries. “We will continue to process applications for benefits, but it might take longer if a shutdown does occur,” said Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for Social Security. “Our local offices will open for limited services. We are working on the specifics.”

A huge backlog of applications for Social Security disability benefits would grow even larger, agency officials said.

HEALTH CARE Medicare, the program for people who are 65 and older or disabled, would continue to pay doctors and hospitals for several weeks, using money from its trust funds.

The National Institutes of Health would not admit new patients to its research hospital or begin new clinical trials of drugs, devices or other treatments. However, research studies already begun would continue.

TAXES. The Internal Revenue Service would not audit tax returns and would not issue refunds to taxpayers who file returns on paper. But the agency would process returns filed electronically, a majority of all filings, and would issue refunds for those returns. Douglas H. Shulman, the I.R.S. commissioner, said federal taxes would still be due on April 18. (The deadline had already been extended three days because of a local holiday here.) The I.R.S. plans to keep enough people on hand to cash incoming checks because the government needs the money.

HOUSING If a shutdown occurs, the Federal Housing Administration, the world’s largest insurer of mortgages, could not make new loan guarantees for homebuyers.

PASSPORTS As a national security agency, the State Department would continue operations, but some activities, like issuing passports for travelers and visas for foreigners coming to the United States, could stop or face significant delays. Emergency consular services would continue.

POSTAL SERVICE Post offices would maintain their regular hours and mail delivery would continue.

FOOD STAMPS Since the government makes the money available to states by the beginning of each month, advocates for food stamp recipients predicted no immediate impact on benefits. “They should be O.K. for the month of April,” said Stacy Dean, a food stamp expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

MILITARY Active-duty personnel would continue to work and earn pay during a shutdown, but would generally not receive paychecks until Congress appropriated money at some later date. While troops in combat zones and assisting Japanese earthquake relief would continue operations, they might not be paid until a new budget was approved.

Many civilian employees of the Defense Department could be furloughed, but some would continue working, if their duties were deemed essential to national security or to the protection of life and property.

Civilian employees of the armed forces perform myriad duties, including payroll, security and air traffic control. Brian M. Leonard, president of a union local representing civilian employees of the Marine Corps, said, “The Defense Department is not telling us which employees will be furloughed, how they will be notified or whether they will be paid.”

PARKS AND MUSEUMS National parks would be closed and the Smithsonian Institution’s museums are planning to close.

WELFARE (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Benefits have been authorized through the end of September, so experts predicted that cash assistance payments would not be affected. States share in the costs and could substitute their own money to make up for delays in the arrival of federal dollars.

“Our expectation is that it’s not going to have a big impact,” said LaDonna A. Pavetti, of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


LAW ENFORCEMENT The Justice Department would continue work to protect national security, enforce criminal laws and combat drug trafficking and gun violence. At department headquarters and at the offices of United States attorneys around the country, prosecutors would continue criminal litigation without interruption. Federal prisons would continue to operate.

But the Justice Department would curtail or stop work on most civil litigation.

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