Having reached a dramatic eleventh hour agreement last Friday night, Congressional leaders avoided what was being portrayed as a catastrophic government shutdown. But would it really have been that bad? Let’s consider the consequences.
If no agreement had been reached then apparently IRS workers would have been furloughed thereby delaying any tax refund you might be owed. Is that really such a big deal? Considering that most of us probably owe taxes, the fact that tax bureaucrats couldn’t get to our files would probably have been a good thing.
There could have been a delay in processing social security claims and the issuance of cards. Again, is this so bad? We’ve been talking for years about how the social security system is underfunded and headed for bankruptcy. What better way to avert a financial implosion than to stop paying claimants for awhile. Let’s face it; the longer the shutdown goes on, the fewer claimants there’ll be when payments finally do resume.
Likewise, Medicare claims would have been stalled. Not a bad thing necessarily. (See social security above.)
A government shutdown would have meant a slowing of police investigations of certain matters. One type of case that likely would have been shelved indefinitely is bankruptcy. There are a lot of former homeowners out there who would welcome such a development. Again, not such a bad thing.
If the shutdown had lasted more than a week, then members of the military would have had to report to work without pay. Sounds harsh but think about where this might have led. Already fed up with the never-ending conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, members of the armed forces might have taken matters into their own hands and come home now.
Some say pulling the plug on government funding would have resulted in the suspension of many programs designed to clean up the environment. They also say that it would mean the closure of national parks thereby shutting out millions of visitors. Given the absence of litter-dropping, fire-starting, tree-chopping park visitors, it looks like a shutdown could have done far more for the environment that a bunch of pencil-necked bureaucrats.
Others have noted that a government shutdown could result in delays in processing FHA mortgage loans to low and middle-income home buyers. But wasn’t it just two years ago that the whole economy just about came tumbling down because of unwise mortgage loans to low and middle-income earners?
Maybe a delay will make these folks think twice about taking on more debt.
So perhaps a government shutdown would not be such a bad thing after all. In fact, if members of Congress were furloughed too, it might be the best thing that’s happened to this country in years.