Shutdown: It’s FUBAR time

If the ongoing “partial” government shutdown has you confused, bewitched, bothered and bewildered welcome to Club FUBAR. As anyone who has been in the military knows it stands for Frequently Unanswered Basic Answers Revised.

You are, like it or not, now a card-carrying member in bad standing. What we know is not very helpful. During this partial shutdown nine department and agencies with roughly 800,000 employees are impacted in some way.

About 420,000 people are working without pay. Today is the second blank paycheck they will receive for working since the shutdown started before Christmas. One of the days they haven’t been paid for yet is Dec. 24. the day they were supposed to get as a bonus holiday — until the shutdown hit.

Confused? If so you are doing well. If not, stick around.


Roughly 800,000 employees have been furloughed which, in this case, means they cannot perform their federal jobs. The good news is that most people, those working without pay and those not working also without pay, will eventually get paid. The “when” part is the sticking point.

Confused yet? Patience, please! All in good time.

The mail is still working, so that’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that much of the incoming postage, for 800,000 feds and many, many more federal contractors is from landlords and banks that hold your mortgage or credit card companies. They are reminders that they haven’t heard from you in a while, that your credit rating is about to tank and you may need to find a new place to live unless you pay your bills.

In most cases workers cannot use leave, either sick or annual, during a shutdown. In most cases health insurance premiums to plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and coverage continues. Workers can apply for unemployment insurance. But when/if the shutdown ends they will have to repay it to the state.

The good news/bad news is that the legislative branch of the government is exempt from the partial shutdown. The means your two senators and your representative in the House are still getting paid. And the White House is still operating although Secret Service personnel, like other feds who must work, are in a non-pay status pending a solution.

Given the lessons learned, assuming there are any, how likely is it that when this one is over there will ever be another? The short answer: Probably. We had more than 20, including three last year.

As long as politicians who don’t have any skin in the game keep getting paid, shutdowns will continue. FUBAR.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

On this day in 1980, Paul McCartney was released from a Tokyo jail for carrying half a pound of marijuana into Narita International Airport. He was deported before making a court appearance.


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