Federal employees still unaware of shutdown impact

April 6, 2011 7:32:01 PM PDT
Late Thursday night, a budget meeting at the White House got underway. President Barack Obama sat down with the Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to avert a government shutdown. If they fail, a lot of people will feel the effects.

The deadline for funding the government is midnight Friday. If there is no agreement by then, 800,000 federal employees could be furloughed without pay taking $1 billion a week out of the economy.

Outside a social security field office in East Oakland, federal employee Howard Egerman held a sign protesting the possible shutdown.

"People don't know about paying their mortgages, their car payments, payments for their children's child care etc., etc.," said Egerman.

Egerman says his supervisors haven't told him whether or not he should come to work next week or if he'll get a paycheck.

"We're told we'll be finding this out on Friday," said Egerman.

If there is no budget agreement by midnight Friday and government funds run out, social security checks will be printed and sent out, but there will only be limited service at the social security field offices.

"If people have to file for benefits, they may not be able to get assistance or if they need to change their address, they may not be able to get assistance," said Egerman.

Members of the military have been told their paychecks will be delayed if the shutdown goes on through the end of their pay period. The IRS will continue to collect taxes, but processing tax refunds could be delayed. Zora Christian is an IRS tax auditor

"Have they told you whether you're going to be working next week? No, they haven't," said Christian. When asked what that felt like, she said, "Well, nothing to it."

"And we're still in the dark, yeah, we just don't have a clue," said Alvin Thomas who works for the Veterans administration.

The company that ferry's passengers out to Alcatraz Island told ABC7 they're not a bit worried about the possibility that federal parks would close. However on Wednesday at Fort Baker, federal park supervisors refused to talk on camera, saying they have a contingency plan, but they won't talk about it. And ABC7's political analyst, Professor Bruce Cain, Ph.D, believes the secrecy has to do with strategic decisions administration will make for political reasons.

"You have to assume that if you're the administration, you have to figure out a way to cut such that it really impacts Republican districts and Republican constituents," said Cain.

And that could happen in a number of ways. Consider the impact of slowing payments to government contractors and defense projects particularly in red states. On the Democratic side, Democratic lawmakers know they've already given in on extending the Bush tax cuts. If they give in to Republican demands again, they run the risk of making the next issue -- the debt limit and whether or not to raise it -- an even tougher fight.


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