Republican Senator Ted Cruz just spent a marathon 21 hours speaking at the Senate podium. While usually, such marathon stints spent in the same place are reserved for people trying to win used cars, Ted was stumping in protest of Obamacare, something, something so contentious that in addition to Republicans “symbolically” attempting to pass legislation killing it 41 times, both parties are willing to endure a government shutdown while they play political ping-pong over it. Politicians and pundits from sea to shining sea are making vain attempts to explain what might happen if members of Congress just take their ball and go home to teach other members “a lesson” in an homage to their days on the grade school playground. For those Americans who think a government normally set at the little turtle on the mobility scooter at the grocery store is bad, just wait until Uncle Sam locks himself out of the front gate completely. But, we don’t need to completely panic. While millions of regular government employees could be out of a paycheck for awhile, there are at least a few things American’s needn’t worry about.
Our leaders won’t go hungry.
Anyone worried their representatives in the Senate or House or the President and his cabinet might end up next to them in a bread line outside Walmart can rest easy – America’s leaders will still get their paychecks. The President and members of Congress aren’t paid out of regular appropriations, but rather through a mandatory spending bill. Plenty of politicians gave fiery speeches the last time they threatened to close the doors at Congress (2011) about how they *shouldn’t* be paid, but when it came down to writing that legislation down and passing it, the legislature was so cash strapped it couldn’t afford a pen. When asked in 2011 why Congress hadn’t passed a bill that would force legislators to spange in the park like a regular worker might do during a shutdown, John Boehner said “we’ll have to take a look at that. I’m not sure that that’s entirely accurate,” presumably before wiping some crocodile tears with hundred dollar bills.
Our text messages are still safely in the hands of the NSA.
Running a vast and secret network of computers built to mine text messages, emails, phone calls, internet traffic and more gets expensive. All by itself, PRISM, the most popular of secret NSA spying programs, costs $20 million a year to run. But, that’s a small drop in a very large bucket filled with $10.8 billion. This doesn’t mean however, you’ll have free reign to sext your friends and browse the darkest depths of internet porn all evening without a man in black virtually looking over your shoulder. Since the first two letters of NSA stand for “National Security,” PRISM and other federal that provide security “essential to the national security or the safety of life and property” get an exemption. Agency’s like the NSA, FBI, DEA and others will be able continue their surveillance and suppression of drum circles against a war on Syria or sit-ins at big banks unabated.
Speaking of Syria…
Uncle Sam spends trillions spreading democracy across the globe. Painting the word “FREEDOM” in blood red across the Earth requires drones, planes, tanks, bombs, super carriers worth tens of billions of dollars and more. Don’t expect Uncle Sam however, to take a bong rip and lay around eating Twinkies and watching Doctor Who just because he’s got the day off. Even though we might be brokering a deal to stave off a strike on Syria, we’re still spending billions on defense. According to the Washington Business Journal, Lockheed Martin just secured a sweet deal with a $3.92 billion “modification” to a missile contract. In total, the defense industry sweetheart managed to secure $4.95 billion in contracts, but the bucks don’t stop there. Contract modifications with Lockheed aside, the DOD awarded 51 new contracts valuing more than $2.18 billion.