Unless Republicans in Congress and President Obama can agree on budget legislation to keep the federal government running, a shutdown at midnight Friday looms. But given the relatively tiny sum separating the Republicans and Democrats, the whole shebang is a silly sideshow to the real issue – getting America's millions of unemployed back to work.

Ostensibly, the two sides are now just $7 billion apart -- a mere 0.5% of 2011's $1.5 trillion budget deficit. The New York Times reports that the Democratic side had comprised, agreeing to a $33 billion budget cut, while the Republicans surprised their opponents Tuesday with a demand for $40 billion in cuts.

The good news is that a government shutdown is not a sure thing. The New York Times reported that Thursday the Republican House would vote on a measure to keep the government going for another week and fund the Pentagon through the end of September while cutting the budget by $12 billion. However, Democratic lawmakers consider that a measure a non-starter.

So if all this budgetary brinkmanship and political theater does lead to a shutdown, what will happen next? Results from a recent poll and the details of a review of the government's shutdown plan suggest that a shutdown will produce a few clear winners, some who break even, and a lot more losers.

The Winners
  • The Koch Brothers, billionaire owners of the privately-held chemical conglomerate Koch Industries: Through their Americans for Prosperity Foundation, they provided at least $45 million to finance the Tea Party, according to The New Yorker, and they must be thrilled with the power of their money to morph Washington into a machine that can't say no to their agenda. However, given the growing unpopularity of the Tea Party, this may be the Kochs' last hurrah. (As former eBay (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman learned after spending $142 million of her own money to lose the California governor's race, a willingness to spend vast quantities of your own money is not a guarantee of electoral success.)
  • People getting audited by the IRS: They will enjoy a delay in that painful scrutiny, because the IRS will suspend auditing people's returns.
The Break-Evens

Some things will keep going if the government is shut down. Among those are the following, according to the New York Times:
  • The Post Office
  • Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries
  • Air traffic controllers
  • Lawmakers
  • The Federal Reserve (it doesn't get its funding from Congress)
The Losers

There will be plenty of losers if the government shuts down, among them:
  • The Troops: Members of the military will continue to defend our country and fight its battles, and the government will incur an obligation to pay them -- but they won't get their checks until after a budget is signed;
  • Civilian federal workers: Between 800,000 and 1.9 million government employees will be furloughed;
  • American investors: It will be open season for anyone wanting to defy the Securities and Exchange Commission, because it will be mostly shut down;
  • Tourists: If you are on vacation and want to visit a national park or museum, you won't be able to get through the locked gates; and
  • Old-fashioned tax filers waiting for refunds: If you file a paper return and are expecting a refund -- sorry, you'll have to wait. For electronic filers; however, payments will still be forthcoming.
  • Consumer-oriented businesses: Companies large and small that rely on average consumers to buy their products and services will see sales slow down as millions of government workers stop drawing salaries and start tightening their belts to ride out the shutdown.

Some of the politicians in Washington may not seem to care much about the repercussions of a shutdown. But they do care about themselves -- and more specifically, how all this will affect their chances of being reelected. In that vein, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has some interesting results. It suggests that Republicans -- particularly those in the so-called Tea Party wing of the party -- are taking a hit in popularity thanks to the budget battles.

  • 44% of the 1,000 Americans polled had a negative attitude towards the Tea Party, and since January, the percent with very negative feelings about it had jumped from 24% to 30%;
  • The Tea Party has lost ground among its base. The percentage of those saying they support it has fallen from 30% last November to 25% now; and
  • A record 67% of those polled said they don't support the Tea Party.

Why do we have government anyway? It does a good job of running the military, and it has managed to keep payment systems going -- although not as smoothly as I would like. It is also a fairly good protector of consumers from the risks of businesses that might otherwise deliver dangerous products in pursuit of profit. Whether government programs are the best way to pay for health care or retirement expenses isn't clear to me.

But one thing isn't unclear at all: If a government shutdown occurs, it will be a political stunt focused on affecting the 2012 election results. The numbers being battled over will have virtually no impact on reducing America's budget deficit. And if a shutdown lasts for any length of time, it could hurt prospects for solving the biggest problem we face -- getting 13.5 million unemployed Americans back to work.




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NORMA

And some people complained when Kennedy was elected because he was a Catholic.At least he believed in God not Mohammad

April 10 2011 at 5:17 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
NORMA

MAybe they shoud all be impeached,Starting with O'Bama

April 10 2011 at 5:09 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Mick

We need to get rid of at least 60% percent of the Federal government and it's deficit spending for the economy to recover. We need an America first government with no foriegn entanglements. We will save 400 billion a year by dropping out of NATO and stop Protecting other countries in Asia such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. They can form an alliance and protect themselves.We need to stop all foriegn aid. You can't buy friends. We need to reduce our military spending in foriegn lands and concentrate on securing our own borders. We need to round up the univited alien squatters who drain the economy and send them home if they are here illegally. We must get rid of the Federal reserve and the strangle hold of foriegn banksters. We need to stop government theft of SSI funds if we want it to be solevent again and the Feds need to sell some its excess assets to repay what they have taken in SSI surplusses in the past.Most of all we need a govenment that serves all the people instead of the Bankers, corporations, big oil interests, wall street, and the war profiteers. Well I can dream can't I? LOL

April 10 2011 at 3:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
yourcountry2

There is a looney lib low rater on board who can't face reality.

April 10 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to yourcountry2's comment
yourcountry2

It will shut down when we are completely bankrupt.

April 10 2011 at 2:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
blano54

Well,we know now the Government will not be shutting down for NOW, But.... The losers will be EVERY ONE,and don't think for even a second that it's NOT!!

April 10 2011 at 1:44 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
mdjredroses

NO MORE HELPING THE MONEY MOUCHERS WHO WANT EVERYTHING GIVEN TO THEM.. WERE A GENERATION OF WANTING EVRYTHING GIVEN TO US INSTEAD OF WORKING HARD AND STAYING IN SCHOOL AND GRADUATE... MY TAX MONEY SHOULD GO FOR WORTHY CAUSES AND NOT LAZY PEOPLE WHO ONLY WANT THE GOVERMENT TO TAKE CARE OF THEM AND THEN ASK FOR MORE FREE RIDES... WORK WORK WORK...EARN A REAL LIVING, AND MAKE YOUR SELF RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN SUCCESS! STOP GIVING YOUR CHILDREN THE WRONG MESSAGES THAT SOMEONE HAS TO TAKE CARE OF YOU... YOU LAZY SORRY WHINERS... MY MONEY SHOULD GO TO THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED AND THE CHILDREN... THE REST OF YOU GO WORK! GET OFF YOUR SEAT!

April 10 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mdjredroses

Can't Americans live off welfare programs...Is this why were looked as the "Nannny" Countries because we depend on tax dollars to feed and house people who can't do it for themselves or won't work hard enough to make it on their own. It a great injustice to keep making Aamericans dependent on walfare programs...Yes help the disabled! yes help the elderly! help the very very poor... But stop helping those that work the system... You know who you are...pretnding to be moneyless driving escalades with long nail who get their hair done in salons,,etc;; with five kids in towe.. The money grabbers who say they can't work and keep working the system.

April 10 2011 at 1:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wwjoga

the republicans alway want to help the rich and screw the poors if any one ask any rich person is they are worried abouth getting their tax raised they will say not because they have money and they will have money and a big ss pension any way if they retired .why worry too much abouth the rich or millonaries ,billonaries ? as for a goverment shut down the republicans are losser if they talk too much abouth employment a gov shut down will closse and will created more unempoyment cause bussines will losse money ,

April 10 2011 at 7:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wwjoga's comment
yourcountry2

The rich don't have enough money to finance the Dems out of control spending.

April 10 2011 at 1:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
yourcountry2

Washington. PLEASE stop waste in government. Our children and grandchildren will never be able to pay off the national debt.

April 09 2011 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to yourcountry2's comment
yourcountry2

The taxpayer always loses.

April 09 2011 at 8:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
americandoo

"MUTUAL RESPECT, UNITY & TEAM WORK"


"If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move from here!' and it will move."

"MUTUAL RESPECT, UNITY, COMPROMISE & TEAM WORK CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS"

"A DIVIDED HOUSE CREATES, UNREST WITH DIVISION AND NOTHING BUT HARDSHIP FOR ALL"


TIME FOR ALL POLITICAL PARTIES IN OUR WORLD TO PUT THEIR TITLES ASIDE, ROLL UP THEIR SLEEVES, STOP POINTING FINGERS AT EACH OTHER, FOCUS ON THE BALL ONCE AGAIN, AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO FIX THE BALL ! !

THE BALL IS AMERICA & OUR WORLD PROBLEMS ! ! "TIME TO TEAM UP AMERICA & TEAM UP WORLD"


Forget about what Party you are, the Party is over, Time To Get To Work; To Put Everyone Back To Work, Still Keeping Our Planet Safe At The Same Time ! !

"TOGETHER WE CAN DO THIS, SEPARATED WE CAN DO NOTHING"

"OUR CHOICE, OUR WORLD" "TIME TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE"

"UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL"

Imagine what could be accomplished if all the negative energy & time that is spent on how to make the other party look bad was spent on how to Create Jobs For Americans, We Need A United Nation More Than Ever IN THE HISTORY OF THE: "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" I will say it again;

"UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"... NOT... "DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA"


Thank You, Respectfully, Michael V. Caldwell

"THINKING OUT OF THE BOX FOR AMERICA & OUR WORLD"

April 09 2011 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply