If congress cannot settle on a budget to keep the federal government operating past midnight on Friday, April 8, the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will continue to operate. Even though both agencies are bureaus under the Department of the Treasury, both are funded through their respective Public Enterprise Funds. The Public Enterprise Funds contains the seignorage (profits) made from the manufacture of the money.
Although Treasury Department has not made any official announcements, the U.S. Mint did send a note to their employees in February. U.S. Mint employees were told that “unless specifically instructed otherwise, United States Mint employees are required to report to work as usual even if there is a government-wide shutdown.”
Regardless of what the non-federal political leaders say, the Washington, D.C. area is a essentially a company town. In addition to the agencies based in the District, there is a significant federal presence in Maryand and Virginia that will impact the communities where they are located. A shutdown will affect the area as far north as Baltimore, Fredericksburg to the south, and many border towns in West Virginia that host “remote” federal facilities. This does not include the commercial contractors that provide support and services to many federal agencies. I saw one estimate that said 80-percent of the DC Metro Area would be affected by a government shutdown.
I know I am not objective on this subject because it is personal. Not only will a government shutdown hurt the economy of everyone in the region, but it can affect me personally. Since my current project is essential in the long term it is not essential for the short term operations of the government. This means I could be furloughed with my colleagues a lot of other people in a similar situation.
Television news shows us stories about the small towns that lost its mill, plant, or factory and its economy crashes. The stories are all the same, the facility closes and the small town of a few thousand is devastated—almost to the point of turning it into a ghost town. If that happened to an area with over 5.5 million people, what will be the economic impact to the entire nation?
While I agree that we need to fix the budget, get rid of government waste, and figure out how to get out of debt for the overall economic health of the nation, drastic measures are not the way to do it. Very few people can kick any habit “cold turkey” and neither can the government. It will just bring pain and suffering to the people who will not have the money manufactured by the U.S. Mint and BEP to circulate in the economy necessary to promote growth.