Still, with so many federal agencies deemed essential, it's unclear whether most Americans will even notice if the government is shut down.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines "essential" government services and "essential" employees as those:
Providing for the national security;
Providing for benefit payments and the performance of contract obligations under no-year or multi-year or other funds remaining available for those purposes;
Conducting essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property
The OMB also requires that government agencies have a plan for what to do. The Clinton administration published some of the following as its estimates of the effects of the previous government shutdowns:
Medicare: 400,000 newly eligible participants were delayed in enrolling.
Social Security: Claims from 112,000 applicants were not processed. 212,000 new or replacement Social Security cards were not issued. 360,000 office visits were denied. 800,000 toll-free calls for information were not answered.
State Department: 80,000 passport applications delayed. 80,000 visas delayed. The resulting postponement or cancellation of travel hurt US.. airlines, hotels and tourist industry.
National Parks: 2 million visitors turned away from national museums and monuments.
- IRS Enforcement: The Treasury Department lost $400 million of revenue from the shutdown of the IRS Enforcement Division.
Although the same article notes:
Thus, most of the American public should not be terribly inconvenienced by a temporary federal government shutdown. Unfortunately, the people who will immediately feel the effects of the government shutdown are the hundreds of thousands of nonessential government employees who will be immediately furloughed. However, if history is any indication, they will not suffer lasting severe hardship since, as we previously noted, in the 1995 and 1996 shutdown, these nonessential government employees were eventually paid not to work.
What percentage did those hundreds of thousands of nonessential government employees represent? (as a number of people, and as a percentage of the personnel budget?**
Would that percentage be relatively the same today? (Does the OMB consider more employees essential now?)