I have been marveling these last few days at the whining coming from various news outlets and elected officials, especially those that tend to be a tad more right wing. It seems they believe that President Obama and the Executive Branch are making some decisions of what gets shutdown a little painful. This from Investors Business Daily probably captures the feeling reasonably well:
President Obama has made the public at large feel as much pain as possible from a government shutdown he’s betting will ultimately be blamed on Republicans; meanwhile, he and other politicians shield themselves from the pain.
My response to this is “WHAT the FUCK else do they expect? When the government shuts down, that means there are no support people available at national parks and memorials. Funding for contracts is stopped. While there may be funds available for some aspects (Social Security for instance), there are not funds to pay the workers. Different pots of money are involved.
A friend sent me a link to this tweet from the last week of September that details the 17 government shut downs that have occurred since 1976. For six of those, I was on active duty in the USAF, working in the Accounting office. As a GI, I went to work regardless. I knew i would be paid, although maybe not on time if the shutdown lasted for too long. Fortunately for me (and my creditors and landlords), my pay wound up not being interrupted. For another three of the shut downs, I was a direct federal employee and for yet three more, I was a federal contractor. Each time, I was involved in some way or another in planning the response to the shutdown. As a GI or Federal employee, my involvement was generally just to be told yes or no if I was to come into work. As a GI, it was yes. As a civilian employee it was no.
However, as a contractor, I was more deeply involved in the planning of what to do for a shutdown. And we would do the “what-if” planning just about every year as we waited to receive our budget for the year, whether there was a shut down or not. A major part of the “what-if” would be structuring the support levels to provide the minimum required support to our client but do so in the way that could cause the most pain to show how indispensable we were.
As I see the various news reports about things such as the response of various Members of Congress to the shutdown of the World War II Memorial or the stopping of death benefits, part of me sees a bunch of Captain Renault moments (I’m shocked, SHOCKED…) but then I realize that many of these same “SHOCKED” Members of Congress are truly clueless as to how the Federal government is involved in day-to-day life in the US. They are truly clueless as to ALL the ways money is spent. If they actually were capable of thinking through the ramifications of their actions, they would have realized from the beginning how bad the optics are that they would receive their salaries during the shutdown while 800K federal employees go without. They can act like only Congress has to pay for a ‘nice house‘ or are the only ones “who need the pay check.”
I guess it is possible to be both clueless AND disingenuous.
And because I can: