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article imageOp-Ed: Many 'Feds' to continue work during shutdown but without pay

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By William M. Schmalfeldt     Sep 27, 2013 in Politics
Washington - The impending US Federal Government shutdown is not all bad news for government employees. Only a third of the nation's 2.1 million government workers would be told to stay home. The rest would go to work as usual. They just won't get paid.
Well, at least not right away, since the shutdown will mean the Government won't be able to issue checks to its employees. However, employees designated as "essential" would be expected to show up to work, spending their money on the Metro, or their gas money on the Washington Beltway traffic, paying for parking in downtown DC, and do it all for love of country. Not for money.
Worry not. When the shutdown ends, these "essential" Federal employees will get every cent they have coming to them in back pay. It's just that during the actual shutdown, they will have to dip into their savings to pay for those special luxuries that these pampered "Feds" have come to expect as part of their service to the United States of America: rent or mortgage payments, food, utilities, things like that. We haven't heard a word about grocery stores agreeing to allow "Feds" to pay for their food at a later date. Nor are we hearing from any banks or other lenders saying that they won't foreclose on the homes of "Feds" who haven't paid their mortgages because they're not getting paid. Gas and electric companies are not likely to accept "I have no money" as an excuse.
But the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives believes that forcing 800,000 "non-essential" employees to stay home while expecting the remaining "Feds" to show up to work and not get paid is a worthwhile price to pay to keep the Affordable Care Act -- already the law of the land, already found to be "constitutional" by the Supreme Court -- from taking effect.
Congressmen -- who will continue to be paid because, well, the Constitution says they have to -- want to smother the Affordable Care Act in its crib because once it takes effect, once people realize their premiums are actually lower, once folks realize they LIKE "green eggs and ham," it will be impossible for the Republicans to take it away from them.
This is why Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) says he will not contemplate a continuing resolution that does not, at the very least, delay the implementation of "Obamacare" until after the 2014 elections. After that, it'll be okay, one supposes.
This is why Republicans in the House of Representatives are so afraid of "Obamacare" that, according to Talking Points Memo:
"(Force) the closure of national parks from California to Maine and all the Smithsonian museums in the nation's capital. Workers at the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs wouldn't be around to process visa and passport applications, complicating the travel plans of hundreds of thousands."
TPM says Federal workers will learn their fate later Friday.
Details about shutdown plans for each agency were expected to be posted on the (Office of Management and Budget) and individual agency websites by Friday afternoon, according to union officials briefed on the process. Formal furlough notices would be sent on Tuesday, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
"Fifty percent of our members may be locked out of work altogether during this shutdown," said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "Half will be expected to continue to work without a paycheck."
Not all of government would cease to operate. Services considered critical to national security, safety and health would go on as usual, such as border patrol, law enforcement and emergency and disaster assistance. Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, for example, but there likely would be delays in processing new applications.
Active-duty military personnel are exempt from furloughs, as are employees of the U.S. Postal Service, which doesn't depend on annual appropriations from Congress.
Republicans feel this is a fair price for Federal employees to pay, not to mention the ripple effect on a fragile economy that will be caused by a government shutdown, just to keep uninsured people uninsured, to keep people with preexisting conditions from getting coverage, to force young people between 18 and 26 off their parents' health care, and to allow insurance companies to drop coverage on people when they get sick. This is what Speaker Boehner and the Republicans in the House of Representatives are fighting for.
No sacrifice is too great to keep Obamacare from taking effect -- as long as it's you, and not they, who are doing the sacrificing.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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