Shutdown returns to the playlist

So we’re back in the exit lane leading to a government shutdown. Roll Call reports that Senate Democrats appear ready to block a continuing resolution because it lacks federal money for Flint, Michigan.

Planned Parenthood, the contaminated water in Flint, a proposed SEC reporting rule — it’s always something. Each side points to the other as the villain.

They’re negotiating this week, but for that, followed by House and Senate reconciliation, they’ll need at least the whole week. Don’t forget the White House. It, too, has a finely tuned roster of details on which it won’t compromise. The clock ticks; the weights hit bottom at midnight Friday. I perform the once-a-week winding duties for the grandfather clock in our hall. As a matter of

I perform the once-a-week winding duties for the grandfather clock in our hall. As a matter of pride, I try to never let it run down and stop. I also find it annoying to have to reset it.

Except in the abstract, the nation mostly doesn’t feel a government shutdown, because functions essential to health and safety don’t stop. Social Security checks keep rolling. But the parks and monuments would close. Pity for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, where the paint is barely dry. It would close just a week after its gala opening!

Yet a shutdown is no trivial matter.

Not to federal employees, even though they’d get their back pay eventually. Between now and eventually, you can lose a car to repo, or put off that new crown you really need. Or get hit with credit card penalties.

Not to appointees, like commissioners of the EEOC or FCC. They have to work in dark offices with no support staff, dealing with matters filed by people with real issues.

Not to contractors, a $400 billion part of the economy. They’d face delayed or foregone revenue. Some would have to lay off people. They can’t even use the shutdown period to conduct business development.

Some good things happen in Washington, the town. Saturday night the National Opera simulcast its rendition of The Marriage of Figaro at Nationals Park, where people could attend for free and watch on the Jumbotron. At the curtain all, (I was at the Kennedy Center) the cast donned Nats caps for their bows. As someone whose family on both sides go back in Washington more than a century, I felt a strong civic moment of pride seeing such a fun convergence — our great opera company (underwritten by a major federal contractor) and our restored baseball team.

The government also generates sources of pride — witness last week’s recipients of the 2016 Service to America Medals. In a shutdown, every one of them would be twiddling their thumbs instead of doing Sammies-grade work. That would be a crying shame.

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