Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Government shutdown is no idle threat - latimes.com

Government shutdown is no idle threat - latimes.com

WASHINGTON — Outside the capital the prospect might seem unthinkable, but inside it seems increasingly likely, and to some inevitable: In less than two weeks, the federal government, from the Agriculture Department to the Weather Service, may shut its doors.

Agencies already have contingency plans for stopping all but essential work. Soldiers would be required to report for duty but would not be paid. National parks would be closed and overnight campers would be given two days to leave. Social Security checks would go out, but the agency would stop updating people's earning records. The State Department would stop issuing most passports.

The snarl this time is worse than in the Clinton era in at least two ways: It involves not just one deadline, but a series of deadlines over the next several weeks, any one of which could see normal government activities come to a halt. If Congress manages to slip past the end of the budget year, the next crisis will come when lawmakers face a vote in mid-October on raising the limit on the nation's debt.

Moreover, the fight has morphed from a straightforward battle between Republicans and Democrats into a three-way brawl in which the GOP congressional leadership must contend not only with the White House, but with conservative insurgents in their own ranks.

Either way, economists warn that if a shutdown happens, the U.S. economy will suffer, particularly if it goes on a while.

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