In case you haven't heard, the nineties are totally back. So grab your beanie babies and your roller blades, turn on 90210 (the original, not the new version with the vapid twig monsters) and get ready, because we're heading for a government shutdown.
It's been 15 years since stalled negotiations over the budget forced a government shut down, so many are left wondering what will happen if Democrats and Republicans can't reach a compromise by midnight.
But while both parties are still maneuvering to avoid the blame, advances in technology mean that for many people the shut down will have no practical effect at all.
The post office and all military personnel will still operate normally, though if the shutdown lasts more than two weeks, military paychecks will be on hold. (In the case of the post office, that's because operational costs are covered by money it generates, not by congressional appropriation — at least in theory.) A number of agencies like air-traffic control, federal prisons, border patrol and more would also be on the job.
But if you're a "non-essential" government employee, get ready for some possibly unpaid time off. As many as 800,000 federal workers will be told to stay home in the shut down. And unlike the 1995 and 1996 shutdown, sources are saying they shouldn't necessarily expect backpay with the tightfisted Republicans in charge of the House.
Unlike the last shutdown, this time the Internet is a serious factor. Whether or not Social Security administration employees are in the office, checks (which come from non-discretionary spending) will still be mailed — or more likely delivered via direct deposit. Same goes for Medicare payments, welfare checks and veterans services. Unemployment payments would go on, since they are administered by the states.
Unfortunately for many, a potential shutdown won't push back the federal tax deadline of April 18. But if you're expecting a refund, the IRS commissioner recommends you file electronically, so that the refund can be processed and paid out according to a normal schedule.
Ah, the Internet. We knew it would come in handy eventually.