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Preparing for shutdown, government plans furloughs

By Sam Hananel

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:26 a.m. HST, Sep 27, 2013

WASHINGTON >> If the government "shuts down" next Tuesday, your mail will still come. Doctors will see Medicare patients. NASA will keep talking to the astronauts circling Earth on the Space Station. In fact, the majority of government will remain on the job.

The bad news would hit random Americans first: vacationers hoping to take in Mount Rushmore or a Smithsonian museum. Homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages. Travelers who want new passports, quickly. Perhaps on the bright side -- for some -- tax audits would probably be suspended.

Troubles would spread the longer a shutdown lasted.

A prolonged furlough of more than one-third of civilian federal workers could mean delays in processing applications for new Social Security and Medicare benefits. Lost profits for businesses that sell goods or services to the government. Problems for airlines and some hotels and restaurants that rely on tourism near national parks. Longer waits for kids seeking delinquent child support.

And, of course, a shutdown would mean no paychecks for an estimated 800,000 furloughed workers. They might get paid later for the missed days but couldn't count on that.

The deadline nearing, a government of more than 2.1 million civilian employees scrambled on Friday to update its plans determining who would stay and who would go home, what would get done and what would have to wait. The equation was complicated by the complexity of federal budget rules; some pots of money would be caught up in a shutdown and some wouldn't.

Ironically, a shutdown would have virtually no impact on President Barack Obama's health care law -- the program at the heart of his showdown with House Republicans. The program that detractors dubbed "Obamacare" is set to roll out its individual insurance plans on Tuesday, government shutdown or no, and people hoping to sign up on that first day shouldn't be affected.

Other work expected to continue no matter how the political fight goes:

-- Prison guards, federal law officers and Border Patrol agents will be at their posts.

-- Air traffic controllers and airport security screeners will keep airports open.

--The military's 1.4 million active-duty personnel will stay on duty.

--Social Security payments will still go out. Doctors will see Medicare and Medicaid patients. Food stamp dollars should continue to flow.

--NASA will man Mission Control in Houston to support the International Space Station and the two Americans among six people living aboard. But aside from that, only about 3 percent of NASA's 18,000 workers will be on the job.

--The White House will stay open because it's exempted from the federal law that requires many government employees to stop working if congressionally approved funding for their jobs expires. Obama could still take his scheduled trip to Asia the week of Oct. 6, if he chose to.

--The post office will keep delivering; its budget isn't affected because it comes from selling stamps and delivering packages.

-- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees who work on programs funded by user fees -- including processing green card applications -- will also stay on the job.

--Federal courts have enough money to operate normally for about 10 days, and their workers will be paid. But if a shutdown continued past mid-October, furloughs would begin.

One reason a shutdown would balloon over time concerns the legion of private contractors who carry out many of the government's functions. Some are paid through huge long-term contracts that wouldn't be affected anytime soon or their money comes from protected streams. Others would see their payments cut off but would keep their employees working for as long as they could, expecting the government to pay its tab eventually. But as cash ran low they might have to turn to layoffs.

For tourists and nature lovers, the effects would start immediately. A shutdown would quickly close all national parks, from Acadia to Yosemite, and national monuments and wildlife refuges. The Interior Department says campers would get 48 hours to pack up and leave.

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serious wrote:
Hey, the President closed the White House tours while he makes campaign tours every other day at $180,000 an hour in AF One. HE's never had to budget--never had a private sector job!!!
on September 27,2013 | 08:47AM
It is funny how we blame 1 individual for our country's problems. One would never look to the millions of out-of-work, welfare, foodstamp, socially inept, lazy, players of the system, greedy corporate execs, the list could go on and on, yet we want to blame 1 man. Utter rediculousness.
on September 27,2013 | 09:19AM
Bdpapa wrote:
True, he's not entirely the blame. But"serious" has a point about the budget.
on September 27,2013 | 10:11AM
DAGR81 wrote:
Obama was not ready to be our President 5 years ago, and he is still not up to the responsibility of leading our country.
on September 27,2013 | 10:39AM
pcman wrote:
IRT DAG on Obama. If Obama had any common sense, he would not shut down the government. Funding of the continuing resolution is not in question, so why stop any government operation? Any simple dude can figure that out, but not Obama. He would rather hold the government hostage than use common sense to keep the government going.
on September 27,2013 | 01:23PM
allie wrote:
republicans are crazed and increasingly willign to hurt the American economy. They are manipulated by Israeli pressure groups and the rich. Most Republicans hate America and the ethnically mixed amalgam it has become. They see Obama as a symbol of the ethnic change
on September 27,2013 | 10:12AM
kispest wrote:
allie you are sick! The people currently in charge are the one's who hate and want to destroy America, and they are doing a good job!
on September 27,2013 | 10:33AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Kispet on allie. The current administration is destroying the country by restricting the creation of jobs and the employment of millions of young able people. Obamacare is the most significant restrictor because it has caused doubt of its cost implications and penalties in the minds of employers and small businesses. Obama is also restricting job creation by his limiting thousands of jobs in the oil, coal and natural gas industries. In turn people are starting to pay more for health care and twice as much for gas than when Obama started in 2008. That is sick.
on September 27,2013 | 01:13PM
DAGR81 wrote:
Get educated and stop muttering ignorant comments.
on September 27,2013 | 10:36AM
kispest wrote:
Stop sending billions of dollars to muslim countrys and other 3rd world country's whom hates us. Then we will have plenty of money to fix our own problems!
on September 27,2013 | 10:32AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Yes good lord none of Obama's predecessors never went on bus tours right, the never took air force one on little jaunts around the country right....
on September 27,2013 | 10:39AM
serious wrote:
They didn't take AF ONE----EVERY OTHER DAY-----look it up!! Ground the airplane for a month and we could balance the budget----kidding---but close!!!
on September 27,2013 | 01:39PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
All of this is because Obama would not budge because he is beholden to those that elected him to his office. Why does he care? He will never need to run for elected office again, unless he pulls a Cayetano and tries to become Governor of Illinois.

Although I am born and raised in Hawaii, and in Honolulu as my screen moniker indicates, with 51 of my 55 years have been spent living in the Aloha State, including my first two years when Hawaii was still a territory, I still detest the up yours attitude that most Punahou graduates have towards the general population.

This is because I was raised in a lower middle class family where my father, a Carpenter who served in The Korean War, had to struggle to keep our entire family going, and here Obama is galavanting all over the world and even trying to light the fire to cause World War III with an unnecessary intervention in Syria.

If this comment is sent for approval, then so be it, however I remind u again of your hypocrisy HSA, of allowing more than R-rated print ad content in your own Sports Section.

on September 27,2013 | 11:22AM
Kuniarr wrote:
Obamacare, which is what the budget crisis is all about, is Socialized Medicine that former President Ronald Reagan warned us all about when he warned that once Socialized Medicine gets its foot on the door it is "Capable of indefinite expansion in every direction until it includes the entire population." Reagan warned " It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it" which is what Obamacare is all about.
on September 27,2013 | 08:57AM
MKN wrote:
@Kuniarr: The same thing was said for Medicare, but Reagan eventually warmed up to that. Riddle me this. What's wrong with Socialized Medicine? I don't see a problem with a government wanting to make sure that ALL of it's citizens have access to medical care instead of the "haves" having access and the "have nots" not having access. Is it because it takes the private sector out of the equation that it makes Socialized Medicine a form of Communism? If that's all that is, then Obamacare isn't Socialized Medicine because it allows the states to setup private exchanges where private insurance carriers can offer different competing healthcare plans. The last time I checked, competition among insurance carriers is Capitalism. What is it about Obamacare that makes it Socialized Medicine and therefore as you are implying is a form of Communism and why is that such a bad thing?
on September 27,2013 | 10:09AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
no its private health insurance with public support. You buy your health insurance from the likes of Kaiser and HMSA. Its actually a republican inspired private sector based model, go ask the loser of the last Presidential election.
on September 27,2013 | 10:41AM
primowarrior wrote:
President Reagan also believed that the country's budget battles should not be used as a political tool. Back in the 80's when the Republican controlled Senate tried to do the same thing, he told them he would veto anything other than a clean debt ceiling bill because he understood that such a tactic could harm the country (The Reagan Diaries - pg. 192). Love it or hate it, this fight to defund Obamacare should not be tied to funding the government or paying it's bills.
on September 27,2013 | 02:37PM
tutulois wrote:
Let's furlough all the workers at Congress -- janitors, cafeteria staff, all the "little people" that these clowns rely on every day.
on September 27,2013 | 09:18AM
BO0o07 wrote:
Very good starting poiint. Obama, Democrats, Republicans are to share the blame if there is a shutdown.
on September 27,2013 | 09:30AM
kahuku01 wrote:
Don't forget the Senators and Representatives staff. They all should be put on furlough. Hey, just imagine if the government shuts down, people should come out to Washington DC and put on a protest and let the other countries watch the demonstrations. The US government (congress) is beginning to become a bunch of clowns trying to look after their own agenda and the heck with the citizens that work for the government or the services that is much needed by the people.
on September 27,2013 | 10:01AM
false wrote:
I think this is all the media playing it up, it really would not turn out to be anything. In the end the same old story the over employed goverment gets its funding and later the debt celling gets raised but with lots of media coverage with no change. Just the same old same old.
on September 27,2013 | 10:00AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
You know what the best indicator is - the stock market. Up till now all the money people had the same view as you and many others. However over the last day or two equities have tanked. This is serious, people are risking our economy to stop Obamacare. Geez
on September 27,2013 | 10:43AM
wahine wrote:
Nice move in saving $ for more important things like illegal wars. :(
on September 27,2013 | 10:00AM
kispest wrote:
... and illegal aliens!
on September 27,2013 | 10:50AM
sailfish1 wrote:
The furloughs are a joke. In past furloughs, the furloughed workers were paid retroactively so that they actually had a PAID VACATION without any loss of vacation time. There was no money savings - in fact, it cost much more money since the government workers spent a lot of time preparing things for the furlough and ignore their normal duties. The government should just tell their people to continue working and they will get paid after the budget crisis is over.
on September 27,2013 | 10:50AM
juscasting wrote:
Chillax...Ain't gonna happen!
on September 27,2013 | 10:52AM
localguy wrote:
Can't believe the sheer incompetence of our congress and senate reps. They haven't got a clue what they need to do to earn their pay. More and more tax payer's money is wasted on their willful failure to work a budget, even with a whole year to do it. Laughing stocks of the entire world. What a fiasco.
on September 27,2013 | 11:08AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
It's because the the guy at the top will not compromise. Theoretically congress has the power to impeach Presidents, however a President needs to empower Congress to do their job, not to stonewall them when a solution is near. A veto is a very strong power any president has, and it was given to Obama by our nation, and I was proud when I seen Barry give his acceptance speech in Chicago when he was elected in November 2008. The rise of the Republican majority in the house indicates though that something or someone is not happy with this administration, as people like to say.
on September 27,2013 | 11:34AM
bsdetection wrote:
The death spasms of the Republican party would be entertaining to watch if they weren't threatening to destroy the economy AGAIN.
on September 27,2013 | 11:53AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Nevertheless, in the meantime, it IS entertaining watching the death spasms of the Republican Party, which will cultimate in the 2014 elections.
on September 27,2013 | 12:32PM
juscasting wrote:
I don't always talk to Obama Haters. But when I do, I order a large fries and diet coke!
on September 27,2013 | 11:53AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Although I am not a fan of Obama due to his lack of leadership and ability to work across the aisles, I don't think all of the problems are attributable to him. Many are involved. As all of our woes did not happen overnight, the solutions and fixes won't happen overnight. To thing so would be ridiculous. We can thank Bush for bankrupting our country like he did to the Houston Astros corporation when he left it. Before he took over the corporation it was a healthy company. When he left it was broke. And we still voted him into office. One thing for sure, the Republicans are using all of this to gain the presidential seat. It sound devious but it appears to be their tactic. They don't want to see America succeed under the Democratic president. They want him to fail and they are doing everything they can to sabotage him. They want Americans to be angry at Obama for not being able to fix the problems that the Republicans helped to create. They would rather see a government shutdown rather than help get America back on its feet. Just like the way the helped to create the Sequester by not working to help prevent it. Then they smugly stated that the Sequester did not have any effect on the economy. And then they will say, "See, I told you so," after the devastating economic effects have taken place when presidential elections come around.
on September 27,2013 | 01:01PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Social Security: Franklin Roosevelt ..... Medicare: Lyndon Johnson ...... And now ... (which the Republicans, along with racists, HATE the SIGHT and the LOOK of this) ......Affordable Care Act: Barack Obama. ....or, even WORSE ... OBAMACARE.
on September 27,2013 | 01:53PM
entrkn wrote:
End All tax breaks and loopholes that primarily benefit wealthier people and corporations in America...
on September 27,2013 | 01:51PM
HD36 wrote:
We've raised the debt ceiling more than 55 times in a row. Whey would they stop now? The bond market would collapse as foreignors finally woke up and realized they weren't getting paid back or they'd get paid back with worthless dollars., Interest rates would spike and the government wouldn't even be able to make the interest payments on the $17 trillion dollar debt. Forget about the unfunded liabilities of social security, medicare, and federal pensions which are over $100 trillion. The entire nation would experience shortages of everything. We'd lose the status of the world's reserve currency. Foreign countries will be able to buy oil in their own currencies and they'll dump treasuries and the dollar. The banks will fail again as the carry trade backfires and they lose billions on interest rate swaps and convexity.
on September 27,2013 | 03:21PM
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