A federal government shutdown might be a good thing, says Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.
The powerful GOP state lawmaker told reporters Thursday that he thinks forcing government to temporarily cease operations could be the kick in the pants Washington needs to help institute a modicum of fiscal discipline.
“I think that we’ve come to the point in the federal government that a shutdown may be necessary if we can’t get the attention of those that don’t want to make cuts,” said Ramsey, who added that officials need to have “the guts to address Social Security and Medicaid and all those other entitlements.”
Politicians in Washington are attempting to negotiate a deal on how to fund the federal government through the end of the budget year in September. As of late Thursday night they were reportedly unsuccessful.
Without an agreement before midnight Friday, the federal government will halt a range of nonessential operations.
Almost half of Tennessee’s $31.2 billion budget is made up of federal funds.
The state is ready in the event of a government shutdown, House Speaker Beth Harwell said Thursday. Agencies have “taken the necessary steps to draw down as much money as possible, that is legitimately our money, to state government now rather than wait for the kind of emergency situation that might come to be,” she said Thursday.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s office says the administration’s not worried.
“We expect the federal government will pass a budget and not shut down. In the event of a temporary disruption, however, our departments will assess what impact any delay in federal funding would have on programs and services and respond accordingly,” said David Smith, the governor’s spokesman.
If the federal government does shut down, services like air traffic control and the post office will continue, and payments for Social Security, unemployment and Medicare claims will still be processed, but departments will be closed.