This will be short. If there is a shutdown - which now seems likely and less than 18 hours away - all signs are that something will be very different about this one. In those during the Clinton presidency, the workers who were furloughed were "made whole" - once the government was funded they were given the pay they would have received had the government not shut down.
Not this time. "Essential" employees will be paid for the time they worked. All the others? The attitude of the Tea Party Republicans - and unfortunately some of the Blue Dog Democrats - is that if they didn't work they shouldn't get paid. So screw them.
I explored this question with a number of people very much in a position to know. This is personal. My spouse is a Federal government employee who is not considered essential. Many of my students have one or both parents who are Federal government employees who are not considered essential. If these people are not "made whole" after a shutdown of more than a couple of days, the implications are quite serious.
A few more thoughts below - by my standards very few.
This is of course a serious issue in the Washington DC area, but we are not the only communities heavily dependent upon the Federal workforce reporting to work and being paid. There are communities all over - perhaps it is an IRS processing center. Or maybe a Social Security center. Maybe it is even a number of smaller federal offices together in one place - anyone remember the Alfred P. Murrah building?
It is not just the Federal workers who get harmed. If the museums in DC are closed, all the vendors who depend upon the tourists will suffer. If Federal offices are closed, hot dog vendors, coffee shops, and the like that serve the Federal employees will suffer.
In some communities, sales taxes on small businesses are a part of their revenue stream. At a a time where local governments are incredibly strapped for revenue, this will hurt them.
Some states have income taxes. So do some communities. They will see a drop in revenue.
An extended shut down, of more than a week, could be leading to people defaulting on mortgages. Stores dependent upon federal employees or those visiting federal sites for pleasure or business reasons could lose sufficient revenue to not be able to pay rent. In either case, the value of property could begin to decline, further depressing local revenues.
In short, many of those not wealthy would begin to feel the impact.
Are there Federal programs that should have been cut back, even eliminated? Certainly. So why the hell didn't the Democrats do that during the two years they were in control, why didn't they examine thoroughly every single Federal program to demonstrate fiscal responsibility?
Now? Programs are being eliminated willy-nilly.
Some of the Republicans do not care if they stay in power beyond these two years. If they can slash and destroy the programs on their hit list, they will count on having sufficient votes - particularly in the Senate - to be able to prevent the affected programs from being reinstated, revitalized.
Meanwhile, if they can lock in the tax cuts for the wealthy, the government will be permanently crippled.
We may need to have the shutdown, rather than agree to destroy piece by piece what government does for most of us.
If so, we sure as hell need to wrap it around the necks of the Republicans and Blue Dogs who are creating this mess.
I fear the worst of all worlds. I fear that we will get a shut down, that after some period of time - perhaps one to two weeks - it will be the Dems, led by the White House, who cave, thereby almost validating the false arguments being pushed by the likes of the Tea Partiers.
And the ordinary folks - government employees and those who depend upon government programs? We are screwed.
Could we please make sure the next time we vote that we demand someone who will stand up for the ordinary folks? Otherwise, what difference does an election make?