As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Tom Roeder reports, a familiar story as the possibility of a shutdown of the federal government grows–Colorado’s biggest conservative stronghold reminded once again how much their livelihoods depend on government cheese:
Hurried shutdown planning meetings began at military bases across the Pikes Peak region Wednesday as leaders prepared for federal budget gridlock that would come if a deal isn’t approved by Friday.
The biggest impact of a federal shutdown would hit at the five bases, where as many as 6,000 civilian employees face furloughs, troops could see pay delays and amenities like military grocery stores and daycare centers could shutter until a budget accord is reached…
During the last shutdown on Oct. 1 2013, more than 6,000 civilian Defense Department workers were off the job in Colorado Springs, veterans disability claims piled up and federal parks closed.
The suffering of 2013 may have been at its worst at the Air Force Academy, where a civilian employee in charge of ordering toilet paper for dormitories was furloughed, creating a temporary crisis for cadets.
As was the case in 2013, public opinion polls show clearly that majority Republicans will take the blame for any disruption caused by shutting down the government due to failure to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the proverbial lights on through mid-February. If anything the situation is worse for Republicans today than in 2013, since they can’t lay the blame at the feet of a hostile administration.
In a town where fully half of the pay earned by residents is connected to to the government via defense or many other public sector facilities located along the Ronald Reagan Highway, we have to believe there’s at least a chance in these moments for a recognition–that maybe “the government” isn’t the externalized evil conservatives like to portray it as. In very real terms in El Paso County, the government is an integral part of the economy.
That’s why, while talk radio conservatives gleefully say “shut it down,” in Colorado Springs they’re having emergency meetings.