HeadCount's Washington, D.C. team leader is a federal government employee currently on furlough. This is the second installment in what we hope will be a very short series. The opinions expressed are his own.
Day two of the government shutdown, and we are no closer to a resolution. I fear we are in it for the long haul. Like with many major events of the past, I spent most of yesterday in front of the TV while monitoring progress on the Internet. Let me tell you — that gets boring, especially when the news does not change (the picture at left was taken during "rush hour" in downtown D.C.).
Today I am meeting up with my intern whose tenure was cut short because of the situation. He came over from Germany to work for 12 weeks. Not only did he experience a few agency-wide furlough days back in August, but now he is seeing our government at its most absurd! I am actually embarrassed by the whole thing. I know he enjoyed his time with us, but my goal to provide him with an "insider's look" at how the federal government functions was supposed to be a bit different.
Yesterday’s progress, or lack thereof, consisted of some members of the House attempting to split funding into multiple bills in order to help certain “popular” parts of the government reopen. National Parks, veterans’ benefits and the D.C. government were a few of the selected targets. All were nixed as the Senate has already stated they will only vote on a single, unified package.
I think the kicker to the whole thing is that this is only the beginning. On October 17, we will actually run out of money without some type of Congressional action. I am talking the collective we, the U.S.A., not the furloughed we. That is when we hit our debt ceiling and begin to default on our loans. What does that actually mean? Honestly, I have no idea. However, this article from New York Magazine is pretty interesting and outlines some possible scenarios.
Perusing Facebook yesterday, I saw a lot of great lines related to the shutdown. (You can only spend so many hours watching the news and working down your DVR before you need to check up on social media.) I think the following two best sum up the situation:
“If the government shutdown included Monday Night Football ... I bet we would get some shit figured out.” - Jane
“I can't remember, but did they shut down the government back when car insurance became mandatory for all drivers?” – Clay
Living in the center of things, we are inundated with shutdown news. However, I really wonder how any of this impacts folks outside of a hundred mile radius. Social Security checks are going out. The airports are functioning. I know this would cause backlash, but if we are going to shut down, I want it ALL to shut down. I want every American to feel it and actually pick up a phone and tell their Representative to get on the ball! By safeguarding certain institutions, they are insulating people from the reality of the situation. It seems that working in Congress is one of the few jobs where you can actually not do your job and not get fired! Looking through headlines and news clips from around the country, it would appear that the biggest impact so far for those outside the region is that the National Zoo’s live panda cam is down. I would be happy to dress up as a panda for you and sit in front of a webcam if you are willing to pay. Just throwing it out there….