The Government Shutdown’s Impact

As our legislators continue to try to one-up each other in Nashville, I’d really like to see someone in office start talking about how a very possible government shutdown is going to impact the state of Tennessee.

Taken March 15, 2011 in Nashville

The shutdown will not impact what is called essential employees: soldiers and emergency workers will not be impacted. As one report I read said, museums, parks and zoos will close (although rest assured the BronxZoosCobra and her pals will get fed. You just won’t be able to see them.) Post Offices are exempt but if you are holding your breath waiting for a tax refund, the IRS will be furloughed as well so it could get a bit sketchy. If you are on Social Security, those checks will go out.

And remember, the University of Tennessee has several branches across the state and each one of those schools receive federal assistance.

We are told constantly that Tennessee is cash-strapped although I think that Gov. Phil Bredesen left us in decent shape. We do get federal funding though for countless programs. Initially, the shutdown wouldn’t have a terrible impact, except in places in this state like Gatlinburg where the park and tourism drive the economy. Parks closed; restaurants and hotels suffer.

If a compromise doesn’t happen this weekend, 800,000 federal employees won’t be coming into work and will be on furlough. That’s when things get dicey if it goes on any length of time.

In a story from earlier this week at WSMV, MDHA and programs like Rooms at the Inn are at the most risk. MDHA relies on federal funding that they funnel to a variety of programs in the Nashville area.

Let’s also take into account that this movement is backed by the tea-party faction of the Republican party who want deep cuts in Medicare and Social Security who have not taken into account that average citizens do not give two rips about, as Martin Frost wrote in Politico, the symbolism of a government shutdown, and that’s what it is. This is politics. Average folks right now are nervous about high gas prices that are sitting at $3.50 a gallon in most places here in the state, food for their families and shelter in this wobbly economy. They are making less and spending more.

Average Americans are stretched thin.

The Tea Party, however, is just itching for a fight as we gear up for another campaign season next year. And, in all honesty, pomp and circumstance grabs headlines but the reality is that Head Start is at risk. Pell grants are at risk. Cash-strapped Americans are the least of their worries.

All of this, of course, depends on what happens before midnight tomorrow.

And what is happening in this state. Our new governor gives an 11 percent pay hike to his department heads. Mind you, he is proposing a 1.6 percent increase for state employees. Sort of smells bad, but is also indicative of what we are dealing with these days.

I’m a lot like Cuppa Joe this morning who has the statistics of what our country is dealing with. The issue he writes of is about that this not about government spending but bad government policies that keep the wealthy safe while ignoring that the backbone of any country are workers. I would add that last week in this state alone we made teachers into villains and glorified coal miners who are eagerly eyeing our state’s mountains because there is money to be made.

This whole issue comes down to that games are being played with American citizens’ lives. This isn’t about money, it’s about who walks away with the most toys.

People aren’t toys and shouldn’t be treated as pawns in politics.



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