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February 19, 2013 3:22 PM Here Come the Furloughs

By Ed Kilgore

Expect to hear some real shrieks of pain tomorrow as the Department of Defense announces its furlough plans for civilian employees if (as is a reasonably safe bet at the moment) the “sequester” scheduled for March 1 takes place. Here’s a description from Stars and Stripes’ Chris Carroll:

The Defense Department intends to notify Congress on Wednesday of a plan to furlough nearly 800,000 civilian employees one day each week beginning in April, a defense official said Tuesday.
Federal law requires the Pentagon to warn Congress of furloughs at least 45 days in advance, and other regulations require direct notification of employees at least 30 days in advance….
Defense officials say the most likely scenario would be 22 days of furlough - one day each week - beginning in the last week of April and running through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Exceptions include political appointees and employees whose pay comes from sources other than Congressional appropriations. Those whose job functions are necessary to protect life and property would also be exempt.
Nevertheless, some DOD civilian firefighters, police officers, nurses and other emergency workers in fully staffed departments could still be furloughed.

It will probably be a while before we can assess the geographical impact of these furloughs. But it’s a pretty good bet the economic good times that insulated Northern Virginia from much of the Great Recession are about to come to an abrupt end.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Josef K on February 19, 2013 3:29 PM:

    Let's count our blessings. At least Versailles-on-the-Potomac isn't being stormed by peasants, and its denizens dragged off the guillotine.

  • c u n d gulag on February 19, 2013 3:37 PM:

    Oh goody!

    And the devastating mess this does to our economy will make Conservatives harder than a lifetime supply of V*agra!

    They can then work on hanging this on President Obama and the Democrat.

    And, in 3... 2... 1...
    Cue the cry that, in our newly re-depressed economy, we can't afford to pay SS, Medicare, Medicaid, or anything else that's not involved with the military - like Russia or China, or anyone else, would want to invade and take over the sh*thole Banana Republic we'll become soon, when they get their blessed "Austerity" in place.

    Jayzoos H. Keerist, there are no Barbarians at the gates, you feckin' morons!
    They're already inside - they're called "Republicans!!!"

  • danimal on February 19, 2013 3:51 PM:

    I think it's a safe bet that once the congressional mandarins actually start seeing their Beltway cocktail party friends suffering from furloughs they will re-assess the sequester. So in the long run this may be an unfortunate but necessary step towards budgetary realism.

    Until the GOP majority starts getting pushback on their crazy-ass shenanigans, the shenanigans will continue.

  • Rabbler on February 19, 2013 3:56 PM:

    Doesn't this scenario often lead to a military coup in less exceptional countries? Maybe we will find out that the coup has already taken place.

  • Josef K on February 19, 2013 4:13 PM:

    From Rabbler at 3:56 PM:

    Doesn't this scenario often lead to a military coup in less exceptional countries? Maybe we will find out that the coup has already taken place.

    Smaller countries, with less influential and intertwined economies perhaps.

    As it is, the apocryphal "Business Plot" against FDR didn't stand a snowball's chance of working, and the world economy was a lot simpler and the US government a whole lot less sophisticated back in the mid-1930s.

    Today? Between unrestrained wiretapping, drone flights, and TIA initiatives (and god alone knows what else), I doubt any group of anti-government conspirators could manage a basement game of poker without arousing suspicion.

  • paul on February 19, 2013 4:38 PM:

    What's not clear to me is whether the House GOP leadership is capable of taking "Yes" for an answer at this point. Sure, they're ditched the Hastert Rule, but they still need some of their caucus to sign on. They could screw the pooch simply because they can't get their act together.

    Then again, they could go with something they know is horrible but that democrats will accept, release 30 of their members to vote for it, and then campaign against the evil budget-cutting Dems in 2014.

    I wonder if the House Progressive Caucus will stand firm. If they do, that would mean any deal would either have to meet their terms or else have huge republican support.

  • boatboy_srq on February 19, 2013 6:14 PM:

    I think it's a safe bet that once the congressional mandarins actually start seeing their Beltway cocktail party friends suffering from furloughs they will re-assess the sequester. So in the long run this may be an unfortunate but necessary step towards budgetary realism.

    Won't happen. The worst the "congressional mandarins" will experience is their Beltway cocktail party friends whinging that H1-B is the only way for them to supply the demands of Washington, and the occasional nanny or in-home aide who's legal for a change (and "Didn't you used to be [insert Beltway cocktail party friend here]'s secretary/programmer/project manager?"). NoVA will hurt from this, but the pain won't be visible from the top.

  • Northzax on February 19, 2013 9:08 PM:

    I know my household is preparing for this...I work in a service industry dependent on federal employees, (it's a company town, my customers are feds, is all) and the missus is a dod civilian, this could get ugly for us in a hurry, just as we're almost done paying off debt from the Great Recession. We're anticipating a roughly 30% decline in our household income in April. We'll survive, but we won't be spending money on anything but rent an groceries for a while.