This just begs an important question
With budget talks between Republicans and Democrats far from resolution, official Washington braced on Tuesday for a replay of the Great Government Shutdowns of 1995 and 1996. For weeks, the Obama administration has been quietly examining the experience of the mid-1990s as a kind of shutdown survival guide. Now those preparations have kicked into high gear.
The White House Office of Management and Budget directed the heads of federal agencies on late Monday to share contingency plans with senior managers. On Capitol Hill, the chairman of the Committee on House Administration warned “nonessential employees” on Tuesday to turn off their BlackBerrys during a shutdown, or risk punishment for working while on furlough.
In any shutdown, the government does not completely cease functioning, of course. Activities that are essential to national security, like military operations, can continue. Air traffic control and other public safety functions are exempt from shutdowns. Federal prisons still operate; law enforcement and criminal investigations can continue. Employees deemed essential to the functioning of government can come to work. (In ego-driven Washington, a federal shutdown forces high-powered workers to confront their self-worth. Many federal officials insisted on showing up in previous shutdowns, apparently unable to come to grips with idea they might not be considered vital.)
If these people are “non-essential,” then, do we really need to be paying them to do a “non-essential” job? Obviously, some that are considered “non-essential” are folks that are doing good jobs, and we’d need them back, like, say, people that work in the gift shops at the Smithsonian. Others, well, not so much, so, shouldn’t it be about time to start cutting the fat. Like, with the tons of folks who wander around Capital Hill running messages.