Photo: didbygraham via Flickr
It costs more than it saves.Congressional Democrats and Republicans are once again arguing over whether or not to fund the government — and raising the threat of a government shutdown if a deal isn’t reached by the end of the month.
Lawmakers disagree about $6.9 billion in disaster aid for the Federal Emergency Management Agency — money that will pay for relief for hurricane, flooding, and tornado damage.
Democrats want the full-year total that the Obama administrated requested to be included in the six-week funding measure, while the Republican version of the bill that failed to pass the House of Representatives on Wednesday only added $3.65 billion, and included spending cuts to offset part of the funding.
Democrats say the spending cuts should not be included — noting the exception for disaster aid funding included in the August debt ceiling deal that set a spending cap for the next decade. But some Republicans opposed the bill because they didn’t believe the offsets were deep enough.
But the GOP leadership is not necessarily opposed to the additional FEMA funding requested by the Obama administration — they just want to revisit the issue in November, when an attempt will be made to fund the government through the full fiscal year, though they would insist on some offsets.
The big problem with the demand for offsets is that it would cost about as much to shut down the government as lawmakers hope to save.
The last government shutdown in 1995 and 1996 cost the federal government about $100 million per day, NBC News reported earlier this year — a number likely higher now as the size of government has increased.
The estimated 800,000 workers who would be furloughed would likely be granted back pay — though they would also need overtime to catch up on the backlog if a shutdown is drawn out, adding to the cost. Likewise, at least tens of thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — of federal contractors could be furloughed, and they are not paid their salaries when the government reopens.
Combined, the reduction in government spending and loss of wages would have significant effects on the economy as a whole — leading to untold financial consequences almost certain to exceed the the money saved.
Republicans and Democrats have decried for months the lack of economic certainty due to partisan politics in Washington. Yet again, it seems they are going to exacerbate the problem, rather than fix it.
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