If the Federal Government were to shut down on April 8th, 2011, we can look to the last prolonged shutdown (from Dec. 16, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996) and a report by the Congressional Research Service for potential impacts:
- Health - New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical center; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance.
- Law Enforcement and Public Safety - Delays in alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications and cancellation of federal law enforcement hiring.
- Parks, Museums, and Monuments - Closure of National Park Service sites and significant impact to tourism.
- Visas and Passports - Applications by foreigners for visas and U.S. applications for passports went unprocessed; and U.S. tourist industries and airlines reportedly sustained millions of dollars in losses.
- American Veterans - Multiple services were curtailed, ranging from health and welfare to finance and travel.
Beyond these clear impacts, there will be many ripple effects throughout the country:
- Planning - Lost productivity for planning for a possible shut-down
- Vulnerable Impact - There will be a variety of impacts on federal employees who will get furloughed and businesses who work with the federal government. Those with the least resilience will be impacted the soonest.
- Trickle-down Effects - Further impact to the economy will be determined by the length of the shut-down and the interdependencies with impacted businesses and individuals.
Now a bit of perspective; as I write this, the US Federal Government is threatening a shutdown as a result of disagreement over the 2011 budget. The reported dispute is 6 billion dollars. That is a lot of money until you put it in the perspective of a 3 trillion dollar budget. The disputed amount is 2 tenths of one percent.
What will be the ultimate cost of a shutdown? How will the economic ripples effect a US economy struggling to recover from a devastating recession?