DC worries: Will shutdown mean we’re finally going to feel the recession?

posted at 9:21 am on October 1, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The Washington Post ran this as a straight news story, which tells you all you need to know about irony in DC. We’ll start with the story itself.  Here’s Washington DC today:

Washington, a company town unlike any other in America, was on the verge of grinding to a standstill late Monday. And with the factory about to be shuttered, here’s what the dawn could bring: More than 700,000 federal workers idled in and around the District; battalions of frustrated tourists locked out of museums; rush-hour commutes that feel like Sunday morning and countless worried merchants wringing their hands.

The Capital of the Free World: Closed till further notice.

Immune from the worst of a recession that battered the rest of the nation in recent years, U.S. government employees in this U.S. government town know they’ll be disproportionately impacted if nonessential federal offices and programs are shut down at midnight in the spending impasse between Congress and the White House.

“I don’t do something that keeps people alive,” said NASA employee Victoria Friedensen, 57, walking on Capitol Hill in her orange workout jacket Monday before going to work. She’s a program executive, and she and others have been told they will have to stay home if the government closes.

And here’s Washington DC during the last six years of economic collapse, recession, and stagnation.  Median household income in DC is the red line, with the chart courtesy of the Federal Reserve of St. Louis:

Now, this doesn’t mean that a shutdown is a good thing, or that the federal employees in Washington deserve to be furloughed because of the political battles of elected officials in the nation’s capital.  It’s just that this report seems to leave out the fact that these folks have been doing very well, mainly on tax dollars taken from everywhere else in the country where incomes haven’t been skyrocketing. And maybe the budget issues are more significant than just the local economy in DC.


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LOL good point. Maybe that will get them outside the bubble for a little bit… not to worry though they will be back in it soon enough and totally forget about it.

watertown on October 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM

At least they know they got jobs to go back to unlike millions of others who have lost jobs due to the destruction of the government.

watertown on October 1, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Never has one city been subject to so much schadenfreude than D.C. at this very moment.

mintycrys on October 1, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Now, this doesn’t mean that a shutdown is a good thing, or that the federal employees in Washington deserve to be furloughed because of the political battles of elected officials in the nation’s capital

…they’ll still be paid!

KOOLAID2 on October 1, 2013 at 9:25 AM

DC worries: Will shutdown mean we’re finally going to feel the recession?

Sympathy meter = 0.

LOL good point. Maybe that will get them outside the bubble for a little bit…

watertown on October 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Good luck. More likely they’ll blame conservatives for bursting the bubble and reconstruct it at taxpayer expense.

Doomberg on October 1, 2013 at 9:25 AM

The last time I was in Washington I saw bums smashing bottles in the middle of intersections and I saw the locals throwing their garbage on the sidewalks.

Kinda reminded me of Detroit, except that there were houses and buildings still standing.

patman77 on October 1, 2013 at 9:26 AM

The Capitol is made to feel the pain of the districts which means there will be double the amount of children required to participate in this year’s games.

This is what it’s like out here every day since Bark took office, about time the Beautiful People got a dose of what flyover hicks are experiencing.

Bishop on October 1, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Best. Headline. Pic. Ever.

Mohonri on October 1, 2013 at 9:27 AM

DC worries

Good for them.

Lanceman on October 1, 2013 at 9:27 AM

The Capital of the Free World: Closed till further notice.

Hasn’t that been on the door since Obama started running the show?

Gatsu on October 1, 2013 at 9:29 AM

I still don’t see how a shut down will harm the GOP. I think that the doomsaying coming out of DC and the MSM is a bunch of Chicken Littleism meant to scare the public into pressuring lawmakers.

Most of us live our lives free of need of the federal government. It won’t be missed.

If a shut down does cause serious problems then that is proof positive that the federal government is too big, too intrusive, and far too intertwined in our economy and lives.

I say shut it down so people can see just how little we need DC. Perhaps that is their greatest fear.

Charlemagne on October 1, 2013 at 9:29 AM

In other news, the National Parks may be closed, not a good thing, but the Yellowstone caldera didn’t blow it’s top causing extinction of our species. See we can live without federal government bureaucrats running our lives.

simkeith on October 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Best. Headline. Pic. Ever.

Mohonri on October 1, 2013 at 9:27 AM

+1

Truly inspired!

ElectricPhase on October 1, 2013 at 9:31 AM

I still don’t see how a shut down will harm the GOP. I think that the doomsaying coming out of DC and the MSM is a bunch of Chicken Littleism meant to scare the public into pressuring lawmakers.

Charlemagne on October 1, 2013 at 9:29 AM

If the GOP holds firm and refuses to cave, it won’t harm them. It’ll rejuvenate the base heading into the 2014 midterms(provided of course the next item on their agenda isn’t amnesty). Imagine if Obama loses this showdown in the wake of what happened with Syria. It would effectively render him a lameduck.

Doughboy on October 1, 2013 at 9:32 AM

More than 700,000 federal workers idled in and around the District

Far too many government bureaucrats.

rbj on October 1, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Two million more to go. At 700k a week in 4 weeks we can send all the leaches home.

NotCoach on October 1, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Let the Hunger Games begin.

faraway on October 1, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Let the Hunger Games begin.

faraway on October 1, 2013 at 9:34 AM

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Doughboy on October 1, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Far too many government bureaucrats.

rbj on October 1, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Way, way too many.

If enough of them were ever axed, Virginia would go back to being a solid Red state.

sentinelrules on October 1, 2013 at 9:37 AM

See we can live without federal government bureaucrats running our lives.

simkeith on October 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Outside of DC, I’ve got to wonder how many people realize that there is a partial government shutdown.

Sure the government has closed the woods and put barricades up at the WWII memorial but for all the heat and passion this does not affect most individuals personally. Which is why I think it is a losing proposition for the Dems in the long-term. The longer shutdown lingers the more likely that this battle gets swept up in the bigger debate over the debt ceiling. The Dems don’t want to go there even if they are too stupid or partisan to know it.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Screw them all….over paid do nothings. I hope they are out for a long time.

Let’s call it the Super Sequester. LOL. The public will see that we can live without 50% or more of the federal employees.

However, I’m sure once it is resolved, they will receive back pay for the ‘missed days’ and won’t lose a dime.

txdoc on October 1, 2013 at 9:43 AM

I’m a federal worker and I FULLY support that the Republicans FINALLY grew a pair and are standing up to Obama. Maybe they should give Putin, Assad, and Rouhani a shout to get some tips on getting ole Barack to knuckle under.

NavyMustang on October 1, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Minor point of order – the furloughed federal workers will get full back pay once the spigots are reopened.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM

That’s just DC.

Not the rich counties around DC.

10 of the top 15 richest counties surround DC as of 2010, including spots 1,2 & 3.
In 2000, just 3 of the top 15 were.

p0s3r on October 1, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Republicans are going with the wrong tactic, as usual.

They should support the Democrats on this one.

Don’t fight to defund or delay, but send a CR to the Senate with the ONE demand that ALL, including all of congress and their staffs, receive no exemption from Obamacare.

If/when Harry Reid and Dems refuse that provision, let the Dems explain to the rest of the country why the government is shut down because Dems don’t support Obamacare for all, and don’t want Obamacare for themselves. Even though Dems voted Obamacare into law for all.

Make the message so simple that even Obama voters and supporters understand the message.

Cavalry on October 1, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Minor point of order – the furloughed federal workers will get full back pay once the spigots are reopened.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM

PROBABLY but not a guarantee. Congress has to authorize back pay- as it has done every other time the government has been shut down.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 9:52 AM

The public will see that we can live without 50% or more of the federal employees.

txdoc on October 1, 2013 at 9:43 AM

No they won’t. All they’ll see is Dancing With the Stars and a newsflash that The Washington Monument is closed.

Oldnuke on October 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I’m a federal worker and I FULLY support that the Republicans FINALLY grew a pair and are standing up to Obama. Maybe they should give Putin, Assad, and Rouhani a shout to get some tips on getting ole Barack to knuckle under.

NavyMustang on October 1, 2013 at 9:44 AM

This effects the Nomad household too but I support the shut down. I do not think that it is the political winner the Dems think it is. Unpopular President, unpopular law, reasonable legislation from the House GOP……… They just need to maintain their resolve. Make Harry Reid come asking to send the issue to conference.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 9:55 AM

PROBABLY but not a guarantee. Congress has to authorize back pay- as it has done every other time the government has been shut down.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 9:52 AM

History is a very good indicator of future performance, especially with the bipartisan Party-In-Government.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 9:55 AM


The average federal civilian worker now earns 74 percent more in wages and benefits than the average worker in the U.S. private sector.
A job-to-job comparison found that federal workers earned higher wages than did private-sector workers in four-fifths of the occupations examined. — http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/overpaid-federal-workers

petefrt on October 1, 2013 at 9:55 AM

No they won’t. All they’ll see is Dancing With the Stars and a newsflash that The Washington Monument is closed.

Oldnuke on October 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM

The Washington Monument has been closed for a couple years now due to earthquake damage. The newsflash this morning is the “honor flight” WWII vets unable to get near their memorial due to barricades put up because of the shutdown. I have no idea why the Park Service has to barricade things that are outdoors.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM

I have no idea why the Park Service has to barricade things that are outdoors.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM

To make it hurt.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Now is the time for the House to keep sending over individual CR bills to the Senate. One per day, I think, would do it.

Dusty on October 1, 2013 at 10:01 AM

To make it hurt.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Only government can shut down a tree.

But good news. HUD, Dept. of Labor, and the EPA are shut down completely. Makes you wonder why we have them if they have no essential functions.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Now is the time for the House to keep sending over individual CR bills to the Senate. One per day, I think, would do it.

Dusty on October 1, 2013 at 10:01 AM

There are 20 budget functions. You really want to shut down government that long?

BTW, Senate just rejected latest House legislation. The children are not ready to come to any sort of an agreement yet. Harry Reid is demanding that the House pass a clean CR and then they can talk. Why in the hell would anybody trust that filthy lying douchebag?

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Our Parks; Our Monuments. NPS OUT!

Blake on October 1, 2013 at 10:08 AM

More than 700,000 federal workers idled in and around the District

Far too many government bureaucrats.

rbj on October 1, 2013 at 9:32 AM

And it’s just in DC and just the ones they consider non-essential. Staggering.

Fenris on October 1, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Oh Good. Our lazy stupid President is going to speak from the Rose Garden at 12:25 (so One- ish). I’m guessing it is going to be another of those inspirational tongue lashings since he isn’t getting his way.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 10:10 AM

There are 20 budget functions. You really want to shut down government that long?…

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

They could shut down the government for years, and in the long run we’d be better off. The government cannot continue to grow in size and intrusiveness or this country is over as a free nation.

Fenris on October 1, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Oh Good. Our lazy stupid President is going to speak from the Rose Garden at 12:25 (so One- ish). I’m guessing it is going to be another of those inspirational tongue lashings since he isn’t getting his way.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 10:10 AM

He’s going to tell us a sad tale of Big Mooch having to make do with a simple quiche rather than the usual 5 course breakfast she’s used to.

And the golf outings? Down to 3 per week. Awful.

Bishop on October 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

The average federal civilian worker now earns 74 percent more in wages and benefits than the average worker in the U.S. private sector. A job-to-job comparison found that federal workers earned higher wages than did private-sector workers in four-fifths of the occupations examined. — http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/overpaid-federal-workers

petefrt on October 1, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Now if you really want to get angry, compare those two data points to the wages and benefits of the average member of the US armed forces.

slickwillie2001 on October 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

I’d like one of those miniature violins and bows, as a prop for my kids.

Ward Cleaver on October 1, 2013 at 10:15 AM

10 hours in and it is starting to feel like the Sequester – uneventful.

mjbrooks3 on October 1, 2013 at 10:17 AM

10 hours in and it is starting to feel like the Sequester – uneventful.

mjbrooks3 on October 1, 2013 at 10:17 AM

My stocks are up slightly so far. The economy must be tanking.

Fenris on October 1, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Now, this doesn’t mean that a shutdown is a good thing

Bite your tongue. It is a good thing.

ButterflyDragon on October 1, 2013 at 10:20 AM

He’s going to tell us a sad tale of Big Mooch having to make do with a simple quiche rather than the usual 5 course breakfast she’s used to.

And the golf outings? Down to 3 per week. Awful.

Bishop on October 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

And, of course, relating his little brat asking why she can’t see Mei Xiang’s cub on the Pandacam.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 10:23 AM

The effect will be…nil

“Shutting” down Washington is almost an oxymoron.

right2bright on October 1, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Sorry, not oxymoron, but redundant…maybe both.

right2bright on October 1, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Countdown to the elderly pushed out onto the streets, the children starved and deprived…minorities most affected.

10–9–8–7–6–

right2bright on October 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Not necessarily. While they did get full back in the last long shut-down Congress would need to approve that extra funding. Those who were designated as essential personal and are working will have to be paid.

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Not necessarily. While they did get full back in the last long shut-down Congress would need to approve that extra funding. Those who were designated as essential personal and are working will have to be paid.

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I’ll go with history, which says that even with the GOP controlling both Houses of Congress, the furloughed feral employees got full back pay.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Now if you really want to get angry, compare those two data points to the wages and benefits of the average member of the US armed forces.

slickwillie2001 on October 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Disgraceful, isn’t it.

Seymour Hersh effectively accuses the Obama Administration of treason
– via Wahington Times

petefrt on October 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM

This is where the Democrats have miscalculated.

They’re expecting a tidal wave of popular resentment against Republicans for shutting down a government that has been completely immune to the recession experienced by everyone else the past 5 years.

In fact, the resentment runs entirely the other way– against the fat, bloated wasteful behemoth the Democrats have grown while the rest of the country shrinks.

Schadenfreude is a very powerful emotion.

de rigueur on October 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Park service barricading outdoor memorials is for spite.

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM

There are 20 budget functions. You really want to shut down government that long?

[Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM]

Yeah, why not? The first can be a CR for DoD. Let the Harry Reid & the Dem Senate vote on getting the military back to work. Then, maybe, the Treasury and the DoJ (or visa versa). And so on. Are you worried that 20 days is too long to wait for the House to send over CR’s for DoEn, or DoAg, or DoEd?

It could always become shorter, if the Senate starts passing them. My comment, after all, was a brief single sentence, but the public will see who is working to get the government back up and running, the Republicans or the Democrats. Let the public see the Senate Dems say no (and the House Dems who vote no) to the Military, et al, individually, now that they have been shut down.

Dusty on October 1, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 10:33 AM

I don’t disagree only stated it is not automatic. My daughter was designated an essential employee as a Technology Supervisor for the Border Patrol. They cancelled her leave for this week. She supports the shutdown and is pi**ed that many in her section were sent home and will be paid for sitting on their duffs.

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 10:38 AM

All the hipster bars are having daytime drink specials for those sporting federal IDs. I’m sure out in the ‘burbs, where older folks are worried about tuition and mortgages, they’re a little more distraught, but downtown, they seem to be getting by.

She supports the shutdown and is pi**ed that many in her section were sent home and will be paid for sitting on their duffs.

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Maybe she should call her congressperson and tell them to grow up, then.

urban elitist on October 1, 2013 at 10:42 AM

DC has been a boom town for the past five years (and longer). It’s about time the people who caused many of our problems start feeling the pain.

bw222 on October 1, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Maybe she should call her congressperson and tell them to grow up, then.

urban elitist on October 1, 2013 at 10:42 AM

You do know what assumptions make you, right?

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 10:46 AM

The country is facing existential economic issues.

Since Obama has been president and Democrats have controlled the senate, we’ve faced a historic economic crisis and record unemployment. It has gone unabated and uncorrected since 2008.

Never before since our nations founding have so many people been out of the workforce.

We’ve have an entitlements crisis, because we simply can’t afford the ones we have, not to mention Obamacare, which not only we can’t afford, but is destroying the few jobs left and killing the quality of health care.

Yet we should be upset that D.C. which has insulated itself from the pain everyone else is feeling, now gets a shared experience? That national parks are closed? The Panda Cam shutdown?

You can’t be serious.

Everyday the government is closed we save money and hopefully move closer to electing Republicans that will help remove the ruling class Democrats from our government.

Marcus Traianus on October 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM

And it’s just in DC and just the ones they consider non-essential. Staggering.

Fenris on October 1, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Our office (Dept of Commerce, Inspector General) kept 3 employees out of about 115. Talking throughout the department, that’s pretty typical.

State and Defense may have more.

Washington Nearsider on October 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Washington Nearsider on October 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM

When my daughter first started working for the government (Network Administrator) in a contract position the government kept wanting a second employee assigned to the site she was at. She kept telling the contractor not to because she could do all the assigned work in about 4 hours. She was very well organized having worked as a Network Administrator in the private sector. She eventually lost the fight and had an employee that sat around and did nothing and was resentful when asked to do his job.

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Washington Nearsider on October 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM

I figure if we reduced the non-defense, non-foreign policy, non-safety net, part of federal government to less than 3% of it’s current size, that’d be a good start. All those smart people might have to go out and do something productive and pay taxes that weren’t just recycled tax dollars.

Fenris on October 1, 2013 at 11:04 AM

I don’t disagree only stated it is not automatic. My daughter was designated an essential employee as a Technology Supervisor for the Border Patrol. They cancelled her leave for this week. She supports the shutdown and is pi**ed that many in her section were sent home and will be paid for sitting on their duffs.

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 10:38 AM

If I understand it right, your daughter will get her pay after the “shutdown” ends. Of course, Congresscritters, their staffers, and Administration bigwigs all will get their pay as scheduled.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 11:11 AM

The Capital of the Free World Freebie World: Closed till further notice.

None of these Weenies, none, would accept the krud called Obamacare for themselves.

If only they would feel what they impose on others. But they will not. That crowd will print money, electronically, as much as needed to keep themselves going.

Unless the gang needs some Union pickets. Then they will send out warning letters to fed union members, that they might have to apply for unemployment, to get the pickets roused

That’s what they did when I worked in fed. They hold meetings. Tell you what it is like to lose your home, but advise you about shelters. Tell you what it might be like without food, but tell you about soup kitchens. Doesn’t take much to scare a bureaucrat

Today all you have to do is threaten Obamacare as an economy measure and they wet their pants, figuratively

entagor on October 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Shut Down? was that the Beach Boys album with the Grand Prix and Sting Ray close-ups on the cover?

“Shut it off, shut it off buddy now I shut you down…”

That was a good one.

DanMan on October 1, 2013 at 11:31 AM

He’s going to tell us a sad tale of Big Mooch having to make do with a simple quiche rather than the usual 5 course breakfast she’s used to.

And the golf outings? Down to 3 per week. Awful.

Bishop on October 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

The real impact will be on the REB’s White House party schedule, which generally runs at two a week, when the royals aren’t on full-time vacation.

slickwillie2001 on October 1, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Ask anyone in DC about the recession, and all you get is a quizzical expression and “Recession? What Recession?”

GarandFan on October 1, 2013 at 12:55 PM

You do know what assumptions make you, right?

chemman on October 1, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Considering assumption is the elitist’s mother (NSFW link, so make sure that, if your boss is a prude, you don’t click until you get home),….

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 1:12 PM

HUD has only 350 out of 8,500 employees deemed essential. I worked there in the 1980s and it is filled with do-nothing people in jobs like “program analyst” who make six-figure salaries. I can 100% guarantee that almost nobody would notice if all those other 8,150 people were sent home permanently.

HUD does nothing these days but write checks to cities and local housing agencies. Why does it need 8500 people to do that?

rockmom on October 1, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Ask anyone in DC about the recession, and all you get is a quizzical expression and “Recession? What Recession?”

GarandFan on October 1, 2013 at 12:55 PM

No kidding. I was there last week for a conference and went to a hosted dinner at Morton’s, which was packed. A simple steak with no sides is $52. DC is full of restaurants like this that are packed every night. Building is going on everywhere. Traffic is stupendous. Stores are full of high-end merchandise.

I lived in the DC area from 1981-2004. It was never as ostentatiously prosperous as it is now. It makes me almost physically ill to go back there now.

I was a federal employee for 8 years in the 1980s. I started as a GS-11 making $23,000. At the end in 1989 I reached a GS-15, which at that time was the highest grade level before you got to the Senior Executive Service. I made $62,000. A GS-15 now makes up to $130,000. And there are new grades at many newer agencies that go well beyond that, and many field employees get local pay differentials that add significant amounts. Top employees in the bank regulatory agencies can earn well over $200,000.

rockmom on October 1, 2013 at 2:23 PM

You know how you put your phone on energy saving mode?

Well, the government isn’t shut down, it is simply on money saving mode. I think that we should use this mode every year for enough time so that we don’t run any deficits.

Theophile on October 1, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Most prosperous hardest hit?

flataffect on October 1, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Just send all the GOP home for 30 days and say you won’t come back until they agree to serious negotiations. Oh and the ante goes up each week.

If nothing by November 1st the new negotiation position is outright repeal while we still have insurance companies around. Plus tort reform, shopping across borders and elimination of any mandates on what’s in the policy.

The clock starts ticking now. Then go home.

Oboobi can’t even make recess appointments if the govt is shutdown.

This is what a republic looks like when the House exercises its power of the purse.

AH_C on October 1, 2013 at 7:42 PM