Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's Bad Enough Already - Government Shutdown Edition

Today's Perils of Pauline story is the coming Republican government shutdown. Will they? Won't they?

If you work for the government, it hardly matters.

The government's fiscal year runs from October through September. We are now mostly through half of that fiscal year, and there is no budget. Worse, House Republicans are considering ways to cut that budget. When Congress doesn't pass a budget before the fiscal year starts, it (usually) passes a continuing resolution that says "spend pretty much the way you spent last year." That's bad enough if you have a new program or one that's winding down. But if you have been working to the continuing resolution and now are threatened with cuts to this year's budget, you probably are thinking about moving to another country or, perhaps, suicide. If your project's budget is a half-million dollars, you've spent about half of that by now. If that budget is cut in half when the budget passes a month or two from now, you've overspent, and your project will be one of the ones that Congress rags your Cabinet Secretary about next year. Not to mention the question of what you're supposed to do the next half of the year.

In that case, a shutdown may be a partial blessing, because it takes the onus off of you in particular. And you get a few days off to rest your brain or maybe get thoroughly drunk, if you can afford the pay you won't get.

Of course, there's the damage done if your program is useful and the larger damage of making the country look like it can't run its affairs, but those are small change in the larger Republican program - which is what, remind me again?

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