When the government shutdown in 1995, the United States was at peace. However, President Clinton rightly made sure that the government still paid its military.
For some bizarre reason and at a time when the United States is actively involved in three military conflicts, President Obama has come to a different conclusion.
Yesterday, Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III issued a message to the Department of Defense workforce on a potential government shutdown.
The good news is the following:
“Operations and activities that are essential to safety, protection of human life, and protection of our national security, are ‘excepted’ from shutting down. The DoD will continue to conduct activities in support of our national security, including operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Japan; Libya-related support operations; and other operations and activities essential to the security of our nation. The department must also continue to provide for the safety of human life and protection of property.”
The bad news is that the government will not be paying the military to do these critical tasks during the shutdown period:
“If the government shuts down due to the absence of funding, the DoD will have no funds to pay military members or civilian employees for the days during which the government is shut down. However, both military and civilian personnel will receive pay for the period worked prior to the shutdown. Military personnel, and civilians occupying excepted status positions and required to work, are entitled to be paid for work performed during the shutdown, and will be paid retroactively once the department receives additional funding. Congress would have to provide authority in order for the department to retroactively pay non-excepted employees for the furloughed period.”
This decision is crazy. These people are putting their lives in danger on a daily basis and the President is not going to move heaven and earth to pay them? This is not only an ill-advised action, but also it is stupid.
Defense Secretary Gates said it best this past Thursday during his comments to troops in Iraq:
“As a historian it always occurred to me the smart thing for government was always to pay the guys with guns first. But in all seriousness, based on some stuff I read this morning, if the government shuts down starts on the 8th and goes for a week, you’d get a half a check. If it goes from the 15th to the 30th, you wouldn’t get a pay check on the 30th but you would be back paid for all of it.”
Let’s hope President Obama listens to his own advisors. Many of them, do, after all, know what they are talking about.