Shutdown Math

Love him, or hate him, Tea-nutter, Ted Cruz.

Love him, or hate him, Tea-nutter, Ted Cruz.

I was never a great math student. Math is too exact for my brain, so take my numbers with a grain of salt.


Courtesy of the Congressional Research Service, this is the number of government shutdowns Americans have had to endure since 1977, when the first shutdown occurred. This one is #18. Mike Patton, at Forbes, provides a bit more narrative on the previous 17.


The longest prior shutdown was also the most recent: from Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 5, 1996. That’s 21 days for you counters out there. We are currently in day five.


This would be the number of national parks that have been forced to close their gates and deny visitors access. This includes Acadia National Park, in Bar Harbor.

3.6 million

The Department of Veterans Affairs said if the shutdown continues into late October, it will run out of money for compensation and pension checks to more than 3.6 million veterans who rely on the money to support themselves.

800,000 to 1 million

While the administration apparently still does not know how many employees would be furloughed, David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees estimated the number would be between 800,000 and 1 million employees, out of about 2.1 million federal employees. That’s consistent with a USA TODAY analysis of 2011 shutdown contingency plans, which found that 59% of non-defense government employees would continue to work.

$1.4 billion

While some are “clucking” about the shutdown, talking about all the “savings,” the  Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says shutdowns cost money in terms of contingency planning, lost user fees and back pay. A government estimate after the shutdown in 1995-96 estimated its cost at $1.4 billion.


Thanks to The Atlantic, the small but powerful group of men and women in the House of Representatives who brought the federal government to a standstill.




3 thoughts on “Shutdown Math

  1. You know what number I see in that? 800,000 non-essential government employees. But no worries, they paid off the military, DHS, TSA, Agriculture–all the people who could actually cause trouble if they didn’t get paid.

    I lived through DC during the 1996 shutdown. It was comical, a front-row seat to raging tides of hypocrisy and confusion. The shitty workers got sent home, then three weeks later got full backpay for; the sharp workers stayed on the job and got kicked in the teeth for it. The kiss-asses begged to be declared essential so they could stay on the job, but not so essential that they lost their good deals in the reserves (an “essential” government employee, such as every single FBI employee, can not mobilize in the reserves and so can’t be paid for doing reserve drills and annual training, either).

    I have read that 86% of our government is funded, so I fail to see how this is a catastrophe. I would add, though, that while 32 members of Congress may have a significant role in this, so does a White House with its own games to play. A pox on both their houses.

    Pox Americana.

    • LP,

      It’s too easy to take potshots at the Tea-nutters like Cruz, Mike Lee, Michele Bachmann and others, and I succumbed to that leisurely activity. They remind me so much of the hypocrites that tried to ruin my life out in Northwest Indiana during my fundamentalist foray in the early 1980s. Fortunately, I saw some other light than the flashlight stream they were shining.

      But you’re right, neither party, or our chief executive for that matter, is unscathed and free from blame in this mess.

      Pox, indeed. I liked “Pox Americana,” btw.

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