Is there a furlough in your future? If so, what will it mean? Will it turn out to be an unexpected, paid vacation. Or will you wind up on a street corner selling pencils or will your children be forced to dance, in front of the local Starbuck’s, for spare change?
Despite the rhetoric and media hype, your odds of being furloughed are slim. And if you are furloughed your odds of losing money are even slimmer. Still the possibility is out there, and it makes for good theater.
But it can, and does, happen. In 1995, more than 800,000 feds were furloughed according to the Congressional Research Service. Nobody lost money, but at the time it made a lot of federal workers, and their creditors, nervous.
There were also furloughs and brief shutdowns in 1981, 1984 and two furloughs, 1995 which ran into 1996. The CRS said those were the most dramatic because they were the longest and involved the most people.
Furloughs and shutdowns nearly always take place when Congress, whether run by Republicans or Democrats, fails to to its job and approve appropriations bills. Or when Congress does approve something that the President doesn’t like and he vetoes it. Congress is allowed to do that and so is the President. Who gets the blame often depends on partisan public opinion or a real or perceived media slant.
In any case, they do happen. So stay alert, but don’t push the panic button just yet. For a look at the history of furloughs and shutdowns, click here.
Nearly Useless Factoids
In case you missed it, winter came skipping in this past weekend. According to the Census Bureau, for much of the U.S., temperatures will be at their coldest in the next few months. The absolute lowest thermometer reading anywhere in the U.S. was a staggering 80 below zero at Prospect Creek, Alaska, in 1971. Among continental U.S. cities, Parshall, North Dakota, once recorded 60 below. You can insert your favorite global warming comment here.