Conservative media are dismissing the Republican-led government shutdown as a “slimdown” and a “non-event” despite the severe consequences that have already occurred, and the devastating effects a protracted shutdown would have, including slower economic growth and eliminated funding for mothers and infants.
Media Conservatives Dismiss Government Shutdown
Jonah Goldberg: “Worst Thing That Happens Is Some Museums Close.” On the October 1 edition of Happening Now, Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg said that “the worst thing that happens” because of the shutdown “is some museums close”:
GOLDBERG: There's this incredible hype about both the illegitimacy of trying to overturn a law that Republicans were completely frozen out of on a partisan basis, and there's this hype about the devastating effects of a government shutdown where the most obvious signs of it are that some kids can't get into the Smithsonian. That's terrible, but if the federal government shuts down and the worst thing that happens is some museums close and someone can't go to the Statue of Liberty, that's sad but that's not exactly people fighting like cats and dogs and drinking puddle water. It's not the end of the world either. [Fox News, Happening Now, 10/1/13]
Fox Host Lou Dobbs: “Maybe We Need To Shut It Down Every Couple Of Years Under This Administration.” On the October 1 edition of his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs dismissed the effects of a shutdown on the economy, asking, “Do you want to hear any more bull about what a dangerous, disastrous thing a shutdown of our government is?” He added: “Maybe we need to shut it down every couple of years under this administration.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 10/1/13]
FoxNews.com: Shutdown “Is Turning Out To Be More Of A 'Slimdown.'” In an October 1 post, FoxNews.com wrote that the shutdown “is turning out to be more of a 'slimdown' ”:
What the Obama administration is portraying as a “shutdown” of the federal government -- complete with signs posted at the entrances to government buildings, parks and monuments -- is turning out to be more of a “slimdown,” as all but non-essential workers reported to their jobs Tuesday. [FoxNews.com, 10/1/13]
Scott Martin: Shutdown Is A “Non-Event.” On the October 1 edition of Your World, guest and Fox Business regular Scott Martin said the shutdown “is a non-event, and it's very much scare tactic, like you've said, the president has pointed out about the default.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 10/1/13]
Laura Ingraham: Government Shutdown Is “A Dream For A Conservative.” On the October 1 edition of her radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said that the shutdown is “a dream for a conservative.” [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 10/1/13]
Shutdown Consequences Have Already Been Severe
Federal Workers Furloughed, May Not Receive Pay
WSJ: Over 800,000 Federal Workers Furloughed. The Wall Street Journal reported that more than 800,000 federal workers were furloughed and may not receive pay:
The federal government's forced shutdown of vast swaths of its operations will send more than 800,000 federal workers home without pay, close national parks and cripple some programs, while leaving essential services up and running.
Workers who are deemed essential and continue to work -- “excepted” in the language of government -- would be guaranteed back-pay after the fact. In past shutdowns, Congress has approved retroactive back pay for employees furloughed by government shutdowns. But given the cost-cutting zeitgeist of 2013, that appears less certain this time around. [The Wall Street Journal, 10/1/13]
CDC Halted Some Disease-Prevention Programs
Wash. Post: CDC Stopped Some Disease-Prevention Programs, Including Flu Program. The Washington Post reported, “Every fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the spread of flu and figures out how best to direct vaccine programs around the country. During the shutdown, however, the agency will be unable to support the annual seasonal influenza program,” according to a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services." The Post further reported:
And it's not just the flu. The CDC also has to stop providing “support to state and local partners for infectious disease surveillance.” And the agency will have a “significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency's 24/7 emergency operations center.” [The Washington Post, 10/1/13]
FDA's Food Safety Inspection Program Suspended
The Huffington Post: “FDA Food Safety Inspections Suspended During Government Shutdown.” In an article headlined, “FDA Food Safety Inspections Suspended During Government Shutdown,” The Huffington Post reported:
One troubling casualty of the federal government shutdown -- more troubling even than the blackout of the panda cam at the National Zoo -- is the suspension of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety inspection program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service will continue manning every meat production facility with full-time inspectors, even as many government programs are halted. But the FDA actually oversees the safety of the vast majority of the country's food industry. And according to a memo released by the Department of Health and Human Services, the bulk of FDA food inspectors have been deemed non-essential, so will inspect few if any food facilities until Congress and the president agree on a bill to fund the federal government. [The Huffington Post, 10/1/13]
Head Start Programs Shut Down
NPR: Head Start Programs Being Forced To Shut Down. NPR reported that “about 19,000 children are affected by the government shutdown,” as “Head Start programs across the country are being forced to shut down as they lose funding from the federal government.” [NPR, 10/1/13]
National Parks And Landmarks Closed
CNN: “The Country's National Parks And Other Government-Run Tourist Attractions Will Find The Gates Shuttered And The Doors Locked.” CNN reported that the shutdown has caused national parks and landmarks to close:
While rail networks, essential air security and traffic control operations won't be impeded, travelers visiting the country's national parks and other government-run tourist attractions will find the gates shuttered and the doors locked.
All 401 National Park Service sites, which collectively average about 715,000 visitors per day in October, will be closed, according to a park service spokeswoman. (Guests staying in campgrounds and on-site hotels will be given 48 hours to leave.) The Smithsonian's 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoo will also turn visitors away. [CNN, 10/1/13]
Effects Of A Protracted Government Shutdown Would Be Devastating
Veterans' Benefits Likely Wouldn't Be Paid
Wash. Post: Disability Claims And Pension Payments May Not Get Paid, Affecting Roughly 3.6 Million Veterans. According to The Washington Post, after two or three weeks, veterans' disability claims and pension payments to approximately 3.6 million veterans likely won't be paid:
Some key benefits will continue and the VA hospitals will remained open. But many services will be disrupted. The Veterans Benefits Administration will be unable to process education and rehabilitation benefits. The Board of Veterans' Appeals will be unable to hold hearings.
What's more, if the shutdown lasts for more than two or three weeks, the Department of Veterans Affairs has said that it may not have enough money to pay disability claims and pension payments. That could affect some 3.6 million veterans. [The Washington Post, 9/30/12]
WIC Support For Mothers, Infants Would Run Dry
CBS News: WIC Funding For Mothers And Infants Will Be Cut Off After One Week Of A Shutdown. CBS News reported that funding for the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC), which gives grants to states for low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and infants, will be cut off after one week of a shutdown. Contingency funds are available, but they will be exhausted by the end of the month. From CBS News:
Since the government partially shut down at Midnight on Oct. 1, however, its funding has dried out. The Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the program, noted in a memo last week without congressional approval of new spending, there won't be any funding available for WIC's clinical services, food benefits or administrative costs.
“States may have some funds available from infant formula rebates or other sources, including spend forward authority, to continue operations for a week or so, but States would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period,” the memo said.
“Contingency funds will be available to help States -- but even this funding would not fully mitigate a shortfall for the entire month of October.” [CBS News, 10/1/13]
Food Stamps Program Would Run Out Of Money
NPR: Food Stamps Will Run Out Of Money By End Of October If Shutdown Is Still Going. NPR reported that the “USDA says it has enough money to continue operating” the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- formerly known as food stamps -- “through the month of October.” [NPR, 10/1/13]
Economists Say Shutdown Will Slow Economic Growth
NYT's Krugman: Government Shutdown “Would Amount To A Further Economic Hit” To The Weak Economy. From Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman's New York Times column:
After the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996 many observers concluded that such events, while clearly bad, aren't catastrophes: essential services continue, and the result is a major nuisance but no lasting harm. That's still partly true, but it's important to note that the Clinton-era shutdowns took place against the background of a booming economy. Today we have a weak economy, with falling government spending one main cause of that weakness. A shutdown would amount to a further economic hit, which could become a big deal if the shutdown went on for a long time. [The New York Times, 9/29/13]
For more on economists explaining how the shutdown will slow economic growth, click here.
Shutdown Will Stop Some Home Loans, Harm Housing Recovery
AP: Federal Housing Administration “Wouldn't Underwrite or Approve Any New Loans During The Shutdown.” A breakdown of the effects of a government shutdown by The Associated Press explained that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) would stop approving loans during a shutdown:
Many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays during the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, wouldn't underwrite or approve any new loans during the shutdown. Action on government-backed loans to small businesses would be suspended. [The Associated Press, 9/28/13]
Mortgage Bankers Association CEO: Shutdown “Could Have A Sizable Impact” On Housing Recovery. From a September 27 CNNMoney article on how a shutdown could affect the housing recovery:
“The housing market is searching for recovery, and we've been seeing signs of optimism,” said said [sic] David Stevens, CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. “This could have a sizable impact on the recovery.”
A slowdown in home sales would be felt beyond the housing market. Homebuying triggers related economic activity. New homeowners have their homes painted, they buy furniture, install floors or carpeting and put in new decks and landscaping.
“All that would come to a stop,” said Stevens.
And, if a shutdown drags on for more than a few days, “The impact on the housing market and the economy could be significant,” he said. [CNNMoney, 9/27/13]