Harry Reid doesn’t want to minimize the pain of the shutdown. He wants to maximize it.
* I can hear the complaints now: “Jim, why should these federal workers get paid if they’re not working?” If you want to eliminate their jobs, then eliminate their jobs. But these workers have been stuck in a holding pattern: ‘Stop going to work until further notice, and maybe you’ll get paid for the days or weeks you’re not there.’ Most workers and their families could get by for a couple days or a week without pay, but how many weeks could you or your household go by with no money coming in?
These workers didn’t walk off the job. They didn’t quit. This isn’t their fault, but they’re the ones feeling the most pain. In the District of Columbia and Virginia, a worker has to be out of work for a week before filing for unemployment benefits, and payments may not begin for several weeks. And if a furloughed federal worker does collect unemployment benefits, they have to pay them back once they receive any back pay. In other words, there’s a good chance that the unemployment benefit check will arrive just as the check for the back pay arrives.