The federal government is headed toward a shutdown if Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on a budget.
Meanwhile, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is in the news today for coming up with a 2012 budget proposal that will reduce spending by about $6 trillion over the next 10 years, and reduce the federal deficit by $4.4 trillion. His idea also cuts the top income tax rate by nearly a third, from 35 percent to 25 percent. But his plan counts on President Obama’s health care law being rolled back, and it includes cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, as well as proposes changes in the way funds for those programs are distributed. The Huffington Post offers a good look at the numbers.
“This is a plan not only to pay off our debt over time, but to get the budget under control to keep the government going,” Ryan, R-WI, said on the CBS’ “The Early Show” today.
On the possible government shutdown, congressional lawmakers met with President Obama at the White House this morning to try to strike a budget deal. Republicans are irate over the Senate’s refusal to accept a $61 billion cut to current spending levels. The deal put forth includes $12 billion in cuts to various agencies, programs and project, such as high-speed rail corridor funding, first responder grants, and foreign assistance
If no deal is agreed on, the continuing resolution that is funding the government will expire and the government will shut down at midnight Friday – except for those services considered “essential,” such as any work done by federal employees that involves saving lives or protecting property, including military service, law enforcement, or some medical care. Earlier today, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the two sides have agreed to $73 billion in budget cuts.
“While there was good discussion, no agreement was reached,” said a statement from Boehner’s office. “Republicans are committed to resolving last year’s budget mess in a manner that will help to remove uncertainty for private-sector job creators, and said failure to make real spending cuts will hurt job creation by further eroding confidence in our economy.
But Republicans also took issue with the $73 billion number. “The Speaker reminded those present that there has never been an agreement on $33 billion as an acceptable level of spending cuts,” said the House Republican statement. “And that $33 billion in cuts is not enough, particularly when it is achieved in large part through budget gimmicks.”
So, the White House today ordered top officials at several federal agencies to make contingency plans are ready for the partial federal shutdown that could occur. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said a shutdown could affect his department so much so that it could harm the nation’s economic recovery.
So what else does this mean for the country? Don’t expect much response from any federal agencies regarding programs that aren’t deemed “essential.” The Christian Science Monitor reports that furloughed federal workers will be paid retroactively, but workers under contract with the government do not receive the same protection. Here are some other things that could happen:
-If you’re on Social Security, there’s a chance your checks could be delayed. The Social Security Administration was able to keep nearly 5,000 employees on the job during the fiscal year 1996 shutdown, but later recalled about 50,000 employees to handle new claims and delays.
-Since this shutdown would happen smack in the middle of tax season, your tax refunds could be delayed.
-Disability benefits and pension claims could be held up.
-National parks and museums could be closed.
-Toxic waste cleanup work could be halted.
-U.S. passports and visas could go unprocessed.
-Work on bankruptcy cases could be suspended.
So for these reasons and more, we hope our government leaders can get along and agree on a reasonable budget. America is counting on them!
Watch Rep. Paul Ryan on CBS’ “The Early Show” below:
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