That’s how long lawmakers have to come up with a budget and avoid a shutdown of the Federal Government. Last week, a few of us here at Future Voices posted a couple articles about the Obama budget and the current spending habits of our leadership. But we’re not the only ones that have been biting our nails and watching as that debt clock in the bottom right corner of your screen screams higher and higher.

In November of 2011 the citizens of these great United States elected an additional 63 seats in the House of Representatives. Those 63 new seats, in large part, were won by congressional hopefuls promising to put an end to out of control spending.  And now, 8 days before the federal budget for the next fiscal year is due, we are seeing just how significant that was. You see the House of Representatives is in charge of making that budget and the Republicans are in charge of the House. However, the Republicans are not in charge of the Senate or the White House and each of those parties needs to approve whatever budget is passed by the House. If that doesn’t happen… no budget for next year. That means the federal government has no money until something gets passed

So here we are left with a House full of Republicans who have made a promise to their constituents to get federal spending back under control (the national debt is up about $400,000 since you started reading this article) and a Senate controlled by Democrats who are still bent on entitlement programs and deficits that are built in to their annual budgets. So what we have is a stalemate. The GOP is cutting back and the left is refusing to cooperate. And if neither party blinks, in 8 days the cash dries up.

It won’t be the first time it has happened. In 1995 there was a short-term shutdown under the Clinton administration when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House. And there has been a contingency plan in place to deal with such an occurrence since the 1980s. Departments like the military and other public safety sectors will continue to operate with funds from other appropriations and other essential departments will continue to operate on reduced personnel. The Washington Post has a great article about which departments would shutdown completely and which would operate at reduced capacity that you should definitely check out for some extra credit.

The bottom line is that neither the Republicans, nor the Democrats really want a government shutdown; all that would accomplish would be to make both of them look like idiots. But as citizens, voters, and taxpayers, most of us here at Future Voices would rather see operations freeze for a while than continue to operate at deficit levels.

On a closing note, Charles Schumer (D-NY) had this to say about the potential shutdown:

“If you just say, ‘if you don’t do it my way, I’m going to shut the government down, I’m going to let the government default,’ that is so wrong.”

I would encourage you to pass these sentiments to the following individuals. You’ll have to leave a voicemail because neither of these fine representatives will be in their offices.

  • Peter Barca                                                Patrick Bauer
  • Democrat Leader                                     Democrat Leader
  • Wisconsin State Senate                         Indiana House of Representatives
  • (888) 534-0064                                      (317) 232-9600
  • rep.barca@legis.wisconsin.gov           h6@in.gov

Both the Wisconsin State Senate Democrats and the Indiana State House of Representatives Democrats have fled their respective states to avoid the voting and passage of Republican sponsored bills; effectively shutting down their state governments. You can read about the situation in Wisconsin here and the situation in Indiana here.

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