Friday, July 15, 2011

Fear Not: the Federal Government has shutdown before and Social Security checks kept flowing

This is the third time during 2011 that Congress and the President have been negotiating a budget, and each time, fears of a Government shutdown loomed. Both in February 2011 and April 2011, short term budgets have rolled the inevitable forward for 3 months at a time.

Now once again, in an interview with Scott Pelley of the CBS Evening News, the President instilled fear in the retirement sector by stating that he couldn't guarantee that Social Security payments would be mailed to recipients.

However, this is not a new tactic for the President, as he provided a similar warning on February 15, 2011 when he said: If there’s a government shutdown, "people don’t get their Social Security checks." However, based on previous shutdowns, we know this is not true. Yet the President insists on holding senior citizens as hostages during the Republican debates.

Since 1976, the Federal Government has been shut down 17 times, and each time, Social Security checks were sent out ( This would be 18th government shutdown in U.S. history ).
  1. 1976: 10 days beginning Thursday September 30
  2. 1977: 12 days beginning Friday September 30
  3. 1977: 8 days beginning Monday October 31
  4. 1977: 8 days beginning Wednesday November 30
  5. 1978: 17 days beginning Saturday September 30
  6. 1979: 11 days beginning Sunday September 30
  7. 1981: 2 days beginning Friday November 20
  8. 1982: 1 day beginning Saturday September 30
  9. 1982: 3 days beginning Tuesday December 21
  10. 1983: 3 days beginning Thursday November 14
  11. 1984: 2 days beginning Sunday September 30
  12. 1984: 1 day beginning Wednesday October 3
  13. 1986: 1 day beginning Thursday October 16
  14. 1987: 1 day beginning Friday December 18
  15. 1990: 3 days beginning Friday October 5
  16. 1995: 5 days beginning Monday November 13
  17. 1995: 10 days beginning Friday December 15
During those dates, many citizens were inconvenienced, but Social Security checks, Medicare, and Law Enforcement obligations were continuously honored and maintained.

Perhaps the biggest disruption of the possible August 2, 2011 shutdown will be to the President who will be celebrating his 50th birthday at a Chicago fund raising bash ( Obama 50th birthday bash set for August 3 ).

For the sake of the country, let's hope the Republicans stand together and block any increase to the federal debt and implementation of new taxes.


  1. I'm sure you are aware of this, but there is a difference between a government shutdown and a government default. During a government shutdown, debt continues to be paid and obligations met. In a government default, which we have not yet experienced in the U.S., debts are not met and financial obligations are not met. We don't really know what will happen during a default since we've not yet had one. Let's hope we don't find out.

  2. Good point Len. At this point, failing to establish a budget would mean that we have a shutdown. According to all estimates, the government will receive sufficient revenues to pay the debt and other obligations. Not raising the debt ceiling means the govt must live within its means and not overspend. Should we experience a shutdown, and if those elected and appointed fail to perform their sworn duties by defaulting on our debt, then they should be removed from office immediately, arrested, and put on trial for neglect of duties. Further, those who resort to fictitious scare tactics for their own personal or political motives should be removed as well. They have sworn to protect this country and responsibly manage the country's laws and finances. Trying to scare the population is a failure of their legal responsibilities for which we are paying them.

  3. Either way, whether it is republican or democrate, if you have paid into social security, its your money, and citizens get this money for a reason. We need this money to continue living. The republican and democratic parties involved do not have to worry because they can pay their monthly expenses. This is not fair from both sides of the table. Both sides need to take a look at the big picture

  4. I think this whole operation stinks, republicans, democrates, no social security checks, disability, veteran, and medicare. This world has gone mad. We pay into to these programs for a reason and now what? We can not get what we paid into because we can not make a decision. I wish we could stop all of the bickering and get on with it. People need their money and medicare coverage. People could die over this mess that started years ago. It not start with President Obama, he is trying to clean up the mess. It is time for Repubicans and Democrates to come together on one accord and help get our house in order. No wonder other countries are sitting back laughing at the US.

  5. John, A few points:

    First, we have a budget that the Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the President have all agreed upon, so this isn't about establishing a budget. That is what the shutdowns in the past have been about. This is whether or not Congress will allow the President to spend the money that they have already approved. This has always been done before. Essentially, Congress said, you can spend the money, but when it comes time to pay the bills, by not raising the debt ceiling, they are saying the bills can't be paid. People that run up debts and don't pay their bills are called deadbeats, and I don't want people to start calling our country a deadbeat. Already, two of the rating agencies have said they are preparing to lower the rating on the U.S. Debt if the U.S. stops paying its bills.

    This will drive up interest rates, making our financial problems even worse. Since the rates that home owners and business get are determined by the rates on U.S. debt, that will make it more expensive for people to buy homes and for business to borrow money.

    So, this is a big job killing action, if the debt ceiling doesn't get paid.

    I am interested in the estimates you have about the government receiving sufficient revenues to pay the debt and other obligations. This is contrary to what the conservative Hartford Courant is reporting:

    "What the government collects -- less than 60 percent of what it spends -- is not sufficient to pay debt service (15 percent of the total budget), the military (20 percent), Social Security (20 percent) and Medicaid (20 percent). How we can pay 75 percent of government expenditures with less than 60 percent of revenues? You can't play politics with actual arithmetic. Something has got to give."

  6. @Aldon,

    Thanks for the passionate response. I wasn't aware that a 2011 budget was passed. As I read, the Dems failed to pass a budget in December 2010. So, this responsibility rolled forward to the Repubs in February and April. Now as I read it, the April agreement funded the government until September. So, part of the debt ceiling issue pertains to the 2012 budget.

    The one thing about budgets is that the controlling body must constrain its spending and not exceed the allocated amount. This has not been done, as the President insists on starting wars and suing our states. Instead of moving forward on trials for terrorists, he and the DOJ have continued to spend countless on protecting those in Guantanamo. Additionally, they have spent millions on guns to arm the Mexican cartels, and have taken lavish trips to Europe and Africa, entertaining family and friends at a cost of $1 billion.

    With unemployment still over 9%, I hardly doubt that not raising the debt ceiling will kill jobs.

    And what about savings? NASA is now ending and 10,000 employees will lose their jobs. Why isn't that money saved and removed from the budget? Then we funded stimulus to the banks. They gave the money back with interest. That should have been a wash, but is instead spent. Same with the car industry. We took over control, got stock, and sold it for a profit. That money should reduce the budget.

    If it was your house or mine, we would have cut back on something. But, the current administration is pushing this country towards bankruptcy.

    No, if we shut down the government and force a spending reduction, perhaps more savings will be realized when the over sized government workforce begins to get reduced.


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