Government shutdown harder on black workers

George E. Curry | 10/2/2013, noon
Although the shutdown of the federal government that began Tuesday is affecting all Americans, a disproportionate portion of the 800,000 ...
President Barack Obama on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, urged House Republicans to "reopen the government," saying they "don't get to hold the entire economy hostage over ideological demands" of defunding or dismantling Obamacare. CNN

— The shutdown could have dire consequences for our national security, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

According to the report, “Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects,” published Sept. 23: “A federal government shutdown could have possible negative security implications as some entities wishing to take actions harmful to U.S. interests may see the nation as physically and politically vulnerable,” the report stated.

If the past is any guide, the shutdown might be short-lived. The longest federal shutdown lasted 21 days, from Dec. 16, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996. In the past, furloughed federal workers received retroactive pay for the time they were out. But there is no assurance that would happen this time. Members of Congress are exempt from furloughs.

There is also concern that the shutdown will be another setback for the already shaky economy.

Moddy’s Analytics estimates that a three to four week shutdown could cost the economy about $55 billion, about equal the combined economic disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

When the government was shutdown in fiscal year 1996, according to the Congressional Research Service report:

Health – New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National

Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical center; the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention ceased disease surveillance; and hotline calls to NIH concerning

diseases were not answered.

Law Enforcement and Public Safety – Delays occurred in the processing of

alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco, and Firearms; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases reportedly

was suspended; cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal law enforcement

officials reportedly occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents; and

delinquent child-support cases were delayed.

Parks, Museums, and Monuments. Closure of 368 National Park Service sites

(loss of 7 million visitors) reportedly occurred, with loss of tourism revenues to local

communities; and closure of national museums and monuments (reportedly with

an estimated loss of 2 million visitors) occurred.

Visas and Passports – Approximately 20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners

for visas reportedly went unprocessed each day; 200,000 U.S. applications for

passports reportedly went unprocessed; and U.S. tourist industries and airlines

reportedly sustained millions of dollars in losses.

American Veterans – Multiple services were curtailed, ranging from health and

welfare to finance and travel.

Federal Contractors – Of $18 billion in Washington, D.C.-area contracts, $3.7

billion (more than 20 percent) reportedly were affected adversely by the funding lapse;

the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was unable to issue a new

standard for lights and lamps that was scheduled to be effective January 1, 1996,

possibly resulting in delayed product delivery and lost sales; and employees of federal

contractors reportedly were furloughed without pay.

Speaking in the Rose Garden Tuesday, President Obama said: “I will not negotiate over Congress’s responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up. I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families over a law you don’t like.”