Shutdown impacts region; federal employees, others feel the pain
On the website of PA Senator Bob Casey, a “fact sheet” explains who could be harmed by a shutdown. It said the shutdown could delay financial support for Pennsylvania’s small businesses through the Small Business Administration, which in 2012 received more than 1,000 applications for funds from small businesses each week. Casey also says that, while existing Social Security payments will not be impacted, enrollment of new beneficiaries may be. It says, “Although checks for current Social Security benefits would still go out during a shutdown, applications for new benefits would be delayed and services for seniors could be significantly curtailed. As a result of furloughs and service cuts during the last shutdown, 112,000 claims for Social Security and disability benefits were not taken, 212,000 applications for Social Security numbers were not taken, and 800,000 callers were denied service on the Social Security Administration’s 800 number.”
Among the programs that would be halted with the most significant impact on local residents would be the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides federal grants for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
In the meantime, partisan divisions over the Affordable Healthcare Act, which are largely responsible for the shutdown, appear no closer to being resolved than when the wave of Tea Party candidates were swept into office in response to the act in 2010.