Doom and gloom: Impacts of the federal government shutdown
For those hoping to live in more enlightened political times: Sorry.
Government web sites were suddenly replaced Tuesday by one-page shutdown notices, markets around the globe winced, children’s playgrounds in Capitol Hill parks went silent, military academies suspended intercollegiate sports competitions, and government Twitter accounts stopped tweeting, according to a near-Apocalyptic depiction of Tuesday's federal government shutdown painted in the New York Times.
There were no signs yet this week that House Republicans would back down anytime soon from their dangerous, ideologically entrenched political strategy – essentially a blackmail attempt in protest of President Obama's successfully passed Affordable Care Act legislation, major parts of which are set to go into effect this month – that precipitated the shutdown.
- While subsidies and tax breaks for large corporations remain in check, small businesses with limited access to capital are taking a hit as the U.S. Small Business Administration has stopped initiating new loan guarantees. The SBA, which has provided guarantees for some $106 billion in loans to nearly 200,000 small businesses over the past four years, is also forced to freeze programs to help small firms win government contracts, help veteran-owned businesses and boost international trade.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will stop monitoring air pollution and pesticide use.
- The U.S. Labor Department is ceasing enforcing wage and hour laws or occupational safety.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is halting most of its routine food-safety operations, including "establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making."
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture must cut off funding for its Women, Infants and Children program, which helps pregnant women and new moms buy healthy food and provides nutritional information and health care referrals. The program reaches some 9 million Americans. USDA estimates most states can continue their programs for "a week or so," but they'll "likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period."
- The National Park Service immediately closed more than 400 national parks, museums and sites across the country, including Yosemite National Park and Alcatraz in San Francisco – all having a devastating economic impact on travel and tourism. Day visitors were forced to leave immediately; campers had two days to pack up and get out.