Shutdown will cause delaysPublished 11:21am Tuesday, October 1, 2013
If the federal government shuts down because some Republicans in the House oppose a continuing resolution to fund government operations without changes in the Affordable Care Act, it isn’t expected to change much in Minnesota.
Airports will still be open. Federal food safety and inspection programs will continue. The Post Office will still deliver mail, and Social Security and Medicare benefits will still be there.
“For most people the shutdown, if it’s short, will be big theater in D.C., but little impact back home,” University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said.
However, the roughly 19,000 federal employees in Minnesota who do not work for the Post Office could be sent home to wait out the shutdown – the first in 17 years.
In Fergus Falls, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be shut down and approximately 29 employees with be furloughed, according to public affairs officer Chuck Traxler. A few employees will stay on to maintain public safety and protect government property.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture office is closed, so there will not be market rates available during the shutdown.
The Prairie Wetlands Learning Center will stay open because that is not federally owned, but rather owned by the Fergus Falls Public School District, Traxler said.
The post office in Fergus Falls will not be impacted by the shutdown at all, and County Treasurer Steve Andrews said his office will continue to process passports as usual.
Six National Park Service law enforcement officers who work on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway would remain on the job during a shutdown, said Julie Galonska, who handles media relations and several other jobs for the riverway. But the park’s two interpretative centers would be closed. So will all of the other facilities including popular campsites along 230 miles of the Namekagon and upper St. Croix rivers.
Galonska said that could affect thousands of people.
“We are at the height of fall color season right now, or just about to approach it, so it does have an impact on our visitors,” she said. “I checked on our visitation last October and at the riverway we had almost 7,000 visitors. Most of those coming during the first half of the month for peak fall color.”
Most visitors came to see fall foliage in the first half of October, Galonska said.
A federal government shutdown also would affect taxpayer access to important government offices, including the Internal Revenue Service. Although people will still have to pay taxes, those with questions would not be able to call the IRS for answers.
Similarly, anyone who needs a new passport or has to apply for a travel visa would have to wait.
Those who need replacement Social Security cards also would be of luck.
For many people, such inconveniences might seem trivial — at least in the short term. But the U.S. economy could suffer from a prolonged government shutdown, said Chris Farrell, economics editor for Marketplace Money, a national program produced by American Public Media.
A shutdown would pose serious questions for Washington during a weak and disappointing economic recovery, Farrell said. “Who isn’t being hired because business is unsure about what’s going to happen? What capital projects aren’t being invested in because of this rising uncertainty?
“It just simply ads to the momentum toward a weak recovery, “he said.
If a government shutdown does occur, many people would be angry that the federal government has become so dysfunctional.
That’s how Marilyn Chesnik and Jerry Dorff feel. They own and operate Wild River Outfitters along the St. Croix River in Grantsburg, Wis., and worry that a shutdown would hurt business. They also fear that, without federal workers, the riverway would not be properly maintained.
“I’m furious that these outfits that we elect cannot come together and be reasonable,” Chesnik said.
“It’s unbelievable. This is just another example, another situation where our federal government — the Congress and Senate — are not able to do the people’s business, and that’s not only irritating,” he said. “I’m just kind of outraged — kind of really mad at them for not taking care of their job.”
It’s not clear who Americans would blame if the government shuts down.
According a Gallup poll released late last week about 22 percent of Americans support the tea party. That’s down from 32 percent in the fall of 2010 when the tea party was at the height of its popularity following its emergence in opposition to the federal health care law.