Analysis: Poor will suffer most from govt. shutdown

A KRCG 13 analysis of shutdown contingency plans shows Missourians overall will see little impact from the government shutdown, but the poor will be disproportionately affected.

Contingency plans published by the White House show the largest federal programs are largely unaffected. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will function more or less as normal, and President Obama signed a measure late Monday night to ensure U.S. troops don't see any pay delays. Additionally, most VA benefits will remain intact, including all VA healthcare-related functions.

In terms of direct human impact, the Department of Health and Human Services' contigency plan is the farthest-reaching. The department's plan shows grants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, refugee programs, child welfare services and the Social Services and Community Service block grants will be suspended. A number of discretionary grants for programs like Head Start will also be frozen, as would services for the elderly like senior nutrition programs and Prevention of Elder Abuse and Neglect.

Central Missouri Community Action oversees many of these programs for mid-Missouri. Executive Director Darin Preis has told KRCG 13 his organization has enough cash reserves to keep up its programs for about a month and a half, longer than any shutdown in U.S. history. If the shutdown lasts longer than that, Preis said CMCA would likely call off some of its more seasonal programs, such as weatherization and utility assistance, to keep programs like Head Start open longer, but eventually the organization would have to close its doors.

The Department of Defense has said it will furlough half of its civilian employees. About 2,000 civilians work at Whiteman Air Force Base, though only about 600 are direct federal employees and thus subject to furlough. The rest are contractors and thus will continue to work until their contracts run out. Whiteman officials say those civilians work primarily in base support services such as the commissary. Those services may close, though DoD contingency plans allow uniformed personnel to fill in for civilians in support roles.

According to the Department of Education, some 14 million students receive some kind of federal financial aid, and under that agency's contingency plans, Pell Grants and direct loans could continue. Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods all have funds through the end of 2013 but would not be able to continue past that date.

According to the Congressional Research Service, agencies may continue activities that provide for national security, contract obligations under remaining funds, or conduct essential activities deemed critical to protecting life and property. This means transportation safety workers such as air traffic controllers will remain on the job as will federal law enforcement and corrections personnel and persons involved with maintaining the power grid.