With the threat of a federal government shutdown hanging over the US economy, here is a handy list of the possible effects American citizens and the rest of the world could face if no deal is reached to continue funding.
In the most recent developments in a budget battle, the US Senate Democrats have rejected a proposal by the Republican-led House of Representatives to put off Obamacare for a year in return for temporary funding of the federal government beyond Monday.
Though adopting spending bills by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year in the US, may seem a purely political issue, if Congress fails to approve funding for the federal government this would seriously affect the daily routine of ordinary US citizens, let alone up to 800,000 federal employees who would be sent home Tuesday without pay if the shutdown takes place.
The last government shutdown lasted 21 days, from December 1996 to January 1997, and cost the administration of US President Bill Clinton cost an estimated $2 billion, according to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
In remarks made by Obama Monday evening the President struck a defiant note on the healthcare law.
“An important part of the Affordable Care Act takes effect tomorrow, no matter what Congress decides to do today. The Affordable Care Act is moving forward. That funding is already in place. You can’t shut it down.”
In another pointed remark aimed at Republicans tying Obamacare to the government shutdown the President essentially accused lawmakers of political blackmail.
“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there’s a law there that you don’t like.”
1 Countdown to US default looms
A halt of US government operations would drag the world’s biggest economy closer to bankruptcy, something unprecedented in US history. If no budget deal is done, the US would bump up against their “debt ceiling” and run out of money by October 17. By then, the US government would have less than $30 billion cash on hand, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has calculated.
2 Hundreds of thousands of federal employees on furlough
A one-time layoff of 800,000 people working for the US government would erode the earlier projected economic growth of 2.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2013 by about 0.32 percentage points, according to a forecast by Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody’s Analytics. That projection assumes a two-week shutdown. If it drags into a whole month, the loss of GDP would rise to 1.4 percentage points.
3 Troops’ paychecks stopped
About 1.4 million military active-duty personnel would keep on working, but with their paychecks delayed. Approval for troops’ paychecks is dependent on Obama’s proposed 2014 federal budget being passed by Congress.
4 Women and children’s nutrition program threatened
Pregnant women and new moms who are poor and facing “nutrition risk” won’t be able to buy healthy food, as a looming shutdown would put bracers on the $6 billion Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC).
5 $85 billion in cuts to federal programs
When a shutdown was last threatened in March 2013, it would have resulted in $85 billion in automatic cuts in spending on federal programs – many aimed at alleviating social hardship. The cuts, known as sequestration, would affect grants to local organizations and funds that keep those programs running.
6 Housing loans halted
US federal programs that provide for about 30 percent of all new loans in the housing market – a backbone of the country’s economy – will be shut down. Government funding of new businesses will also be halted, as well as workplace health and safety inspections.
7 Trade talks scuppered?
US plans to have a Pacific trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, signed with the US’s Asian partners could stall, as Obama may decide not to travel to this weekend’s Bali, Indonesia meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations. While he could still go if no deal is done by then, it could be a gift for his Republican opponents if Obama was seen to be jetting off to a tropical paradise at a time when federal employees were sent home without pay.
8 Visa delays likely
Thousands of Americans may not be able to get passports for foreign travel, and tourists travelling to the US will likely face delays in visa processing. During the last government shutdown in 1996-97, some 20,000-30,000 applications remained unprocessed daily.
9 Space program on hold
Space agency NASA will be hit the most, as the agency will need to furlough about 97 percent of its employees, though it will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space Station, where the two NASA astronauts currently on board, Michael Hopkins and Karen Nyberg, may not know whether they have jobs to come back to.
10 National parks, museums and zoos would close to the public
State-funded museums, art galleries and zoos across the country would keep their doors closed Tuesday, leaving thousands of employees furloughed and visitors unable to see attractions. US national parks, from Yosemite to the Shenandoahs, as well as Washington’s National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and Constitution Gardens, would also be closed.