What if they gave a shutdown and nobody gave a rat’s patootie?
The prospect of that happening is dawning on Democrats and apparently they are terrified.
I posted earlier on Mick Mulvaney’s pledge that this shutdown would not be like the 2013 variety. In the same press briefing he said:
Q You alluded the shutdown looking differently.
DIRECTOR MULVANEY: Yes.
Q Can you expand upon that, please? How will this look differently?
DIRECTOR MULVANEY: Sure, a couple different things. And again, OMB is responsible for, sort of, managing the lapse, managing the shutdown. The military will still go to work. They will not get paid. The border will still be patrolled. They will not get paid. Folks will still be fighting the fires out West. They will not get paid. The parks will be open. People won’t get paid. You can see the whole list.
There will be a bunch of different things — when you see, compared to 2013 — but don’t lose sight of the fact that we’re asking the military to work without pay. We’re asking firefighters to work without pay. It’s still harming the people —
Q But what’s different?
DIRECTOR MULVANEY: What’s different? It’s different. Parks will be open this time, and they weren’t before. Let’s go down the list. The parks will be open. The way it works is that the parks are open, but the — especially if the services are provided by third parties, but things like the trash won’t get picked up. Fannie and Freddie will be open. The Post Office will be open. The TSA will be open.
But again, all of these people will be working for nothing, which is simply not fair. We are going to manage the shutdown differently. We are not going to weaponize it. We’re not going to try and hurt people, especially people who happen to work for this federal government. But we still need Congress to appropriate the funds.
The whole yawn-and-shrug emanating from the White House is causing panic among Democrats:
Veterans of past government shutdown standoffs looked on with a mix of horror and bemusement.
Obama administration officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said they were shocked at the apparent lack of seriousness with which lawmakers, and the Trump White House, appeared to be approaching the potential funding lapse. When they went through a shutdown in 2013—and when they prepped for one in 2011—the contingency planning took weeks. Each federal agency produced comprehensive plans for who would be identified as critical staff, who would be subjected to furlough, how reserve funds and operating fees would affect operations, and so on. These contingency plans weren’t just blueprints for life-in-the-wake of a shut down. They were lifelines, since offices had to operate with far fewer human and monetary resources.
As of late Thursday afternoon, however, numerous federal agencies appeared to have not submitted updated plans to the Office of Management and Budget. Of the nearly 130 agencies and offices that submit contingency plans, 66 of them had not publicly updated their proposals since 2015.
“I just cannot imagine working at an agency without an updated contingency plan, without the days and weeks we spent working through the worst case scenarios of funding and staffing,” said Melanie Newman, who worked at the Department of House and Urban Development and OMB under Obama. “It can only result in chaos.”
Even without up-to-date contingency plans, however, a shutdown would have major effects across government. Parks would close. Certain services would be curtailed or ended. Funding for research gets suspended. And then there is the human toll. According to the most recent plans, 14,536 of the 18,530 employees at the National Institutes of Health would be furloughed while 8,440 of the 12,974 staffers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would experience the same fate. And it happens to be the height of flu season.
It’s not just the agencies, though, who will be impacted. The city of Washington, D.C., would see government functions upended, including, potentially, parking enforcement and trash pickup. A spokesperson for the D.C. mayor’s office did not immediately address if garbage would be collected if light of a shutdown.
Establishments that depend on the federal workforce, like restaurants around Cabinet offices, will see dramatic and potentially crippling loss of business.
As for Trump, he would see an impact too. The Executive Office of the President would be forced to furlough workers in light of a shutdown. The operational impacts of that, as one Obama White House official explained, would be felt in the form of innumerable nuisances.
“We didn’t have any press wranglers. We didn’t have anyone to do Jay Carney’s book when he briefed. We didn’t have anyone to run the conference calls. We didn’t have anyone who knew how to do the press list,” the official said. “I don’t think people understand how hard it is. Though, I suppose, [the Trump White House] may not be able to tell the difference.”
What you see in this is really a metaphor for the entire eight years of the Obama administration. The conceit that having plans on paper meant that a) the plans were viable and b) that someone was actually reading and acting on the plans.
In fact, the word is already going out to federal agencies that workers will show up on Monday no matter what happens. This is an example from EPA
This note just went out to all EPA employees informing them that the agency has sufficient appropriations to run through next week, and that all employees should come to work as usual even if a shutdown does occur pic.twitter.com/3T1BgxT6rl
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) January 19, 2018
And Mulvaney was right about working without pay but in reality it is much more nuanced.
For instance. Federal payday is next Thursday. So even with a shutdown, all federal employees get paid next week. The crunch point doesn’t come until two weeks from Thursday when agencies have to meet payroll. So even if you are working with no appropriation, so long as the issue is settled within three weeks no one will lose money on the deal. The difference is that employees won’t be allowed to stay home and get paid when the shutdown is scheduled.
Given the bargaining chips in play, SCHIP vs DACA, I can’t see how the Democrats fight this (be sure to read this awesome post by Sarah Rumpf):
— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) January 19, 2018
and the public seems firmly in that corner
CNN Poll just now pic.twitter.com/UOszRccwta
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) January 19, 2018
If the Trump administration pulls this off, it may have made the government shutdown carnival a thing of the past.