MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The estimate of how many federal workers have been rendered jobless as a result of the fringe Tea Party-precipitated shut down of the federal government varies widely. Some estimates are that immediately 800,000 federal employees were out of work and without pay as of October 1 (those workers deemed "essential" are still at work, but will only receive pay after the budget impasse is resolved); but even with that likely low figure, the ripple effect could reach into millions as federally contracted workers are laid off and more federal employees are told not to come into work.
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, members of the House and Senate continue to receive their paychecks on time. They earn $174,000 a year:
But members of Congress and the president, who are so at odds over who caused the shutdown, will continue being paid and must be by law. That's because their jobs are authorized by the U.S. Constitution and are paid with mandatory funds, not discretionary spending dependent on annual appropriations.
Rank-and-file lawmakers of the House and Senate earn $174,000 annually, while congressional leaders earn more. Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) makes $223,500 a year, slightly less than the $230,700 salary for Vice President Biden and about half of the $400,000 salary for President Obama.
The irony is a bitter one: here is a group of tin foil hat ideologues who spout American Exceptionalism but represent American lunacy, greed and dysfunction. And they are getting paid for shutting down the United States government, putting perhaps millions out of work (due to the ripple effect), and terrorizing our economy. While the people that they put out of work are applying for unemployment, these demented lemmings are cashing their high-salary paychecks.
They are literally getting paid to make people jobless and make the federal government dysfunctional. Don't people get fired for that sort of egregious damage or maybe go to jail? Isn't this sort of internal domestic sabotage?
As MSNBC reported, the federal workers have been besieged by the neo-Confederate rear guard of demented white political revanchists. It's not just this budget crisis; they have been under siege from the anti-federal government descendants of Jefferson Davis for years now:
Federal employees have already had their pay frozen for the past three years. In addition, many of them have been furloughed without pay or received a salary cut as their employers have struggled to adjust to across-the-board sequestration cuts. For federal employee unions, the threat of a shutdown has only added to the sense that their members are under attack.
‚ÄúThis is a workforce which has endured three years of a pay freeze; there has been virtually no hiring, so workloads are increasing dramatically; many already have faced unpaid days because of sequestration; and now they face more unpaid furloughs because of a shutdown that does not need to happen,‚ÄĚ said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, in a statement.
So this is just one strategic gambit in an ongoing crusade, and through it all the very congressional representatives who (with the exception of a few who are donating their pay or portions thereof to charity -- and Wednesday night Boehner apparently decided not to cash his paychecks during the shutdown, according to the Washington Post) are putting hardworking Americans on a financial precipice...these very miscreants are cashing their six figure salary paychecks without interruption.
If ever there were stark proof of the decline of the United States, this is it.
Updated on Wednesday evening to reflect Speaker Boehner's delayed decision to not cash his paychecks during the budget shutdown.