Report Details Impact of 1995-96 Shutdown (Update)

With the prospect of a government shutdown looming as Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans battle obstructionist Democrats, I decided to turn back the pages of history and examine the effects of the most-recent government shutdown which began Dec. 16, 1995, and ended Jan. 6, 1996.

According to the Congressional Research Service report, “Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Effects, and Process,” the long shutdown that began in December 1995 had ripple effects through all sectors of the economy.  Below are a few examples of the impacts of the shutdown offered by that report, said to be taken from congressional hearings, press and agency accounts:

Health. New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance (information about the spread of diseases, such as AIDS and flu, were unavailable); hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered; and toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites stopped, resulting in 2,400 “Superfund” workers being sent home.

Law Enforcement/Public Safety. Delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases was suspended; cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal law-enforcement officials occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents; and delinquent child-support cases were suspended.

Parks/Museums/Monuments. Closure of 368 National Park Service sites (loss of 7 million visitors) occurred, with local communities near national parks losing an estimated $14.2 million per day in tourism revenues; and closure of national museums and monuments (estimated loss of 2 million visitors) occurred.

Visas/Passports. 20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners for visas went unprocessed each day; 200,000 U.S. applications for passports went unprocessed; and U.S. tourist industries and airlines sustained millions of dollars in losses.

American Indian/other Native Americans. All 13,500 Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) employees were furloughed; general assistance payments for basic needs to 53,000 BIA benefit recipients were delayed; and estimated 25,000 American Indians did not receive timely payment of oil and gas royalties.

American Veterans. Major curtailment in services, ranging from health and welfare to finance and travel was experienced.

Federal Contractors. Of $18 billion in Washington area contracts, $3.7 billion (over 20%) were managed by agencies affected by the funding lapse;  the National Institute of Standards, was unable to issue a new standard for lights and lamps, scheduled to be effective January 1, 1996; and employees of federal contractors were furloughed without pay.

The 1995-96 shutdown lasted only three weeks and, as I recall, had a relatively minor impact on most Americans who were not dependent upon government.

If a government shutdown occurs this year and Americans are adversely affected, the blame rests squarely on one group of people, congressional Democrats who failed to pass a budget when they controlled both houses of Congress and, more recently, opted to place politics above the well-being of the nation.

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

UPDATE 4/9/11 at 9:31 a.m. Central: Last-minute budget deal reached. Only $38.5 billion in cuts.  Insufficient.

I Do Not Like Barack O’Bam

Today is the 107th anniversary of the birth of Ted Geisel, the American-born writer best known for writing children’s books under the pen name, “Dr. Seuss.” A fan of his classic books, including Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who! and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I decided to pay tribute to Geisel by imitating his style with a decidedly-political twist.  Enjoy!

Barack O’Bam.
Barack O’Bam.
I do not like Barack O’Bam.

It’s not because O’Bam is black.
It’s not because his wife is fat.
It’s not because his girls are cute.
It’s not because he wears a suit.

I don’t like O’Bam, the guy
and there are many reasons why.

I do not like his stand on wealth
or government inside my health.
I do not like his tax-and-spending
or his budget that needs mending.

He puts our country in a hole.
He sometimes seems to have no soul.
He cancels days of Christian prayer,
but welcomes Muslims everywhere.

He parties almost every night.
He sides with labor in a fight.
He always goes against what’s right.
I do not like O’Bam on sight.

Would I, could I, vote for him?
Would I row a boat for him?

I would never vote for him.
I’d never row a boat for him.
He is not a good president
or 16-hundred resident.

Would I, could I, change my mind?
Would I kick my own behind?

No, I can’t support this man.
I do not like Barack O’Bam.

FYI: If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

Political Unrest Greets Travelers in West Africa

Did you know that, according to news reports like this one, 173 people have died so far this month in post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire (a.k.a., “Ivory Coast”)?  I wouldn’t have paid much attention to the news if not for the fact that I knew someone who arrived in the West African nation just as violence broke out.

Jake Meyer, a longtime family friend, left his central Oklahoma home Nov. 28 en route to Abidjan, the economic center and former capital city of the country.  He was one of three people who traveled to the third-world country as a representative of the 1040 Initiative, a group working to improve the lives of people through a number of health and education projects.

Photos (above and below) show some of the people Meyer and his colleagues met during their two-week journey.

I’m told a video of their adventure will be available next week.  Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, be sure to visit 1040 Initiative to learn more about, and possibly help, this worthwhile organization.

FLASH: Poll Results Prove HuffPo Writer Right (Update)

Barely a year after I was trashed on the pages of The Huffington Post, today marks one of those rare occasions when I felt inclined to read a portion of a Fred Goldring article, New Year’s Resolution 2011: Start Supporting President Obama, published on the ultra-liberal web site.  Surprisingly, it took only a few moments of reading beyond the headline to conclude that Goldring had gotten something right.

The following accurate statement appeared as the first sentence of Goldring’s piece:

As we approach the end of President Obama’s second year in office, it seems that, despite his numerous major achievements, the President has thus far managed to disappoint just about everybody.

How do I know Goldring was right?  Because the results of a new Harris Interactive poll released today prove it:

  • At the end of his second year in office, just three in ten Americans (30%) give him positive ratings on the job he is doing on the economy while seven in ten (70%) give him negative ratings;
  • When asked to compare their financial situation to last year, two in five Americans (42%) feel less secure now while one-third (36%) feel just as secure and one in five (19%) say they now feel more secure;
  • One-quarter of Americans (26%) say they expect the economy to get worse in the coming year while three in ten (29%) expect it to get better and 45% say it will stay the same; and
  • One-quarter of U.S. adults (25%) say they expect the job market to be better over the next six months, one in five (22%) say it will be worse and over half (54%) believe it will remain the same.

In addition to the findings shown above, I found a paragraph of the Harris news release interesting and, perhaps, a bit optimistic:

At the beginning of the year everyone always has the best intentions. Resolutions are made typically about health, diet and/or finances. But, as everyone knows, resolutions are also broken and if they last until the end of January, that’s a great thing. As the year goes on, it will be interesting to see if people are saving more, paying down their debt or cutting back on household spending.

Makes one wonder what President Barack Obama’s resolutions for 2011 might be.

Will he kick the smoking habit?

Will he stop blaming George W. Bush for everything?

Only time will tell.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you enjoy this blog and want to help keep stories like the one above coming, you can show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right.  Thanks in advance for your support! Have a wonderful 2011!

UPDATE 12/27/10 at 5:09 p.m. Central: Cross-posted at BigJournalism.com.

‘ObamaCare’ is a Life Issue

When I went to interview Jim and Cynthia Rice Tuesday about the government-run health care legislation President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday and the fears they hold about it, I expected to be able to write one good story, produce one good video and then move on.  After publishing the story and the video, however, I realized I should share more of what Cynthia shared with me.

In the video below, Cynthia talks about “ObamaCare” as a life issue, about our nation’s need for moral and just leaders, and about the slippery slope people are traveling when they decide to play God and make decisions over who lives and who dies.  Watch it, and see if you agree.

‘ObamaCare’ Memo Offers Glimpse of Future

Many people are wondering how the so-called “health care reform plan” (a.k.a., “ObamaCare”) now under consideration by Congress might impact health care delivery in the future.  A copy of an undated  memo spirited out of the White House by an anonymous source provides a glimpse.

White House LogoMEMO

From: David Axelrod

Subj: Health Care Ideas

To: President Barack Obama

Boss,

Below are a handful of ideas I think we can employ once we get hold of the health care machine.  Let me know what you think about ‘em.

Forever loyal,

Axe

• Use Polaroid instant camera technology in place of x-rays, MRIs and PET scans. We can save thousands of dollars per patient and put thousands of Polaroid employees (i.e., the ones who lost their jobs as a result of the company’s two recent bankruptcy filings) back to work.

YES   NO (circle one)

Replace expensive gel breast implants with chicken breasts. As a means of lowering costs of breast-implant surgery procedures, we can ask Tyson Foods to partner with Dow Corning to develop a new, boneless chicken breast that mimics the shape of a woman’s breast.

YES   NO (circle one)

Next-generation wooden legs. We can ask Louisville-based Hillerich & Bradsby to work with Scott Sabolich, one of the world’s leading prosthetics experts, to develop a next-generation wooden leg — the Louisville Legger®.  As soon as some professional ball players have lost legs, we can begin offering autographed versions for a small fee.

YES   NO (circle one)

“Rubber-Eyes America.” Glass eyes simply cost too much, so let’s start using rubber eyes that are dirt cheap.  To boost employment among our base, the eyes can feature designs provided by artists commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts.

YES   NO (circle one)

Replace pharmacists with vending machines. Patients simply go to a pharmacy wall, enter the code for the medicine they need and enter their credit card number and, voila, little bottles drop down and fill with pills.

YES   NO (circle one)

MEMO

Uncle Jay Explains the News: July 27, 2009

Uncle Jay Explains the News today by “finally catching up to the present.”  Instead of speaking about “health”, a word that was supposed to be the news word of the week, he focuses on “stupid” as the news word of the week. Enjoy this week’s installment below!