Thursday, April 7, 2011

Soldiers Will Continue to Fight But Stop Getting Paid, Congress Will Continue to Play Chicken and Still Get Paid

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The Cable's Josh Rogin points out that the government shutdown would mean soldiers stop getting paid:

In the event of a shutdown, all uniformed military personnel would continue to work but would stop receiving paychecks, an official familiar with the government's planning told The Cable. As April 8 falls in the middle of the Defense Department's two-week pay period, military personnel would actually receive a paycheck totaling half the normal amount. A large number of Pentagon civilians would be furloughed without pay for the duration of the shutdown. Support structures for military families, such as military schools, would remain open. When the shutdown ends, the soldiers would get their back pay but the civilians might not.

Most personnel at U.S. foreign missions would be retained, the official said, although about two-thirds of the State Department and USAID staff in Washington would be furloughed. Non-emergency passport services for Americans would also likely be suspended. Up to three-quarters of the staff at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative would be sent home without pay.

U.S. diplomats and military officials would still be able to travel for important meetings, but "it will be a much, much, much tougher standard," the official said, explaining that travel would be approved only "if it is integral to the foreign relations and safety and security of the country."

The shutdown would also impact government organizations that help American companies do business abroad. For example, the Export-Import Bank would stop approving new loan guarantees or insurance policies, the official said, which could cost American exporters $2 billion to $4 billion each month in income and jeopardize deals already in progress.

Read more here:

Also from The Cable guy, about that bit on Congressmen still getting paid during the shutdown:
A senior administration official confirmed to The Cable that even if the taps are shut off, all Congressmen will later be reinbursed their entire salaries no matter how long the shutdown lasts. Staffers who are deemed essential enough to keep working through the crisis could also get paid, but most will be sent home, without pay for the forced leave.

On the conference call, the officials confirmed The Cable's report that uniformed members of the military will not get paid during the shutdown, although they will get the money back later (not with interest). The officials also confirmed that the vast majority of Defense Department, State Department, and USAID civilians would be furloughed, as well as most White House staff.

"We expect that a significant number of DOD employees, unfortunately, would be furloughed during this shutdown," the official said.
Read in full here.  

LA Times reported on what happens to law enforcement folks and the military and who gets paid when:
Federal law enforcement agencies would be up and running, and many in the military would still be working. Those employees, however, wouldn't be paid for their work until a bill is passed.

"They will be paid once we have money again to pay them," the first senior administration official said.

If a shutdown lasts only a few days, most in the military would receive their full paycheck April 15, officials said. But if a shutdown lasts beyond the mid-April pay period, they would get about half of their check on April 15 and have to wait until the next pay period for the rest.

The burden on military families, at a time when troops are deployed on three fronts, was a pointed reminder of how a 2011 shutdown could be markedly different from its infamous predecessors in 1995 and 1996.
Read in full here.

The Senate had passed a stand alone bill that precludes paychecks and retroactive pay  to lawmakers and the President in the event of a shutdown but the House of Reps has continued to danced around this paycheck issue and has refused to even consider a stand alone bill.    
Voters elect politicians who appears to be uncompromising. But what get things done is when our elected representatives actually do the hard work of hammering out a compromise that is acceptable to most of their constituents, not just to a tiny, loud, fraction of ideologues.

So if politicians are actually conducting negotiation in honest to goodness effort beyond old politics and ideology, then let's follow the money.  If they don't get paid, we'd know that they won't be able to pay their bills like regular people working for Uncle Sam. We know that they are doing their darn best otherwise they, too, won't get paid.

Lets call their congressional paychecks innocent hostages of our times. But they'd have more credibility when they talk about sacrifices and all. 

But if our representatives get their paychecks while 800,000 feds and I don't know how many soldiers suffers the consequences of their juvenile antics, what does that tell us about our elected representatives?

Simply that they can't do their jobs. And that they are frankly, incompetent at what they were elected to do but most competent at looking after their own self interest.   

In any functioning democracies, elected representatives have to learn to compromise. Only dictators get 101% of what they want. Haven't they learned that in their basic civics class?

And here's the other thing that is just supremely poor taste --not only are members of Congress exempted from the furloughs and continue to earn their paychecks during a shutdown, they also get to designate their staffers as essential employees.
Politico reported that about 800,000 federal employees will have to stay home if the government shuts down, but Rep. Darrell Issa’s staff won’t be among them.

The California Republican said he’ll use his congressional prerogative to keep his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff at work. Congressional offices can declare that their employees are necessary to fulfill constitutional responsibilities — which can cover pretty much anything under the sun — and that’s what Issa (@DarrellIssa) tweeted that he’ll do.

“If gov't shuts down, we won't. I believe those who choose to come into work fall under my Constitutional arm. Accountability must continue.”

Okay so -- they'll be holding hearings while their witnesses are in furloughs? Just swell!

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