Take Two for October 1, 2013

How the government shutdown will affect the average US citizen

Congress Meets As Government Shutdown Looms

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Tourists walk past the U.S. Capitol as the Congress remains gridlocked over legislation to continue funding the federal government

There's one story today that's overshadowing the launch of Obamacare: The US government shutdown. 

Last night, Congress couldn't come to an agreement on a new budget and refused to extend the current one. No money means no government, and this morning, various government agencies began taking steps to scale back.

With more on how the government shutdown might affect your daily life, we're joined by KPCC's Steve Proffitt. 

Proffitt: Hello, you've reached the United States. We can't come to the phone now. 

A Martinez: I feel really bad for people who planned a camping trip to Yosemite...
Proffitt: Or how about this guy, Shane Duffy. He's a friend of our director, and he flew from LA to Butte, Montana and drove 100 miles to get to Yellowstone:

"I had no idea that there was a possibility that a National Park was going to be closed to the public for which it was created at all. It was just unfathomable.

Martinez: Unfathonable. Yeah, I guess it's hard for Brits to understand how our government works.
Proffitt: Or doesn't. Then, there are the school kids who take those trips to our nation's capital. Pretty much everything there will be closed, and the Starbucks will be crowded with idled government workers. Actually, the Starbucks here might be crowded, too. LA County has 48,000 federal workers, more than any place in the state. It's not clear exactly how many of them have been put on ice, but it's a fair bet that the beach might be a little more crowded than usual today, too.

Martinez: But maybe the freeways won't be so bad - a few less commuters.
Proffitt: Right, and that's the thing. It is possible that along with various inconveniences, some people may actually benefit from the shutdown. Small things - no pesky phone calls from census workers during dinner time. And maybe bigger things.

If you are being sued in a Federal civil court, your case might get delayed. But there's some really aggravating stuff, too. Like, for instance, A, if you need to check the calibration on your nanometer measuring device, you might be out of luck, because the National Institute of Standards and Technology is pretty much dark. And if you, like most of us, spend a lot of time hoping a big break through in battery technology, prepare for disappointment. Government researchers who work on renewable energy - they're staying home.

Martinez: Seems like it might be a good time to just get out of the country. France is looking pretty good all of a sudden. But then, maybe you'd have trouble getting a passport or visa...
Proffitt: The State Department says they will continue to issue travel documents. Although many Federal buildings will be closed, so that could be a problem. But here's something that I know will make you feel better. The government will continue to provide weather forecasts...

Martinez: So we won't have to depend entirely on Fritz Coleman...
Proffitt: Right. OK, here's a few other interesting things. The people that handle automobile recalls, they're staying home. But at least for now, rocket scientists are on the job. The LA Times reported a spokesperson for the Jet Propulsion Lab expects JPL to remain staffed at least for this week.

After that, it's touch and go, as they say in the space business. And just because the government has run out of money doesn't mean it's actually run out of money. Printers and engravers employed by the Treasury Department have been deemed essential.

Martinez: I guess I didn't really need to stock up at the ATM this morning...
Proffitt: No. Although bank robbers should be aware the the FBI will pretty much be fully staffed during the shutdown. And, if you have taxes due, you still have to pay them. However, if you want to cheat on them, here's your big chance.

The IRS won't be conducting audits. Now, of course, this whole kerfuffle - don't you love that word? This whole kerfuffle is part of an ongoing effort by conservatives who want to kill Obamacare, and who also were able to derail plans for immigration reform and gun control.

But here's the thing, A. Because of the shutdown, the e-Verify system, which is used to ferret out unauthorized workers - it will be down. And the system used to see if you qualify to buy a firearm. Down, too. Just a couple of unintended consequences of the government shut down of 2013.
 


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