As we've been telling you - Congressional negotiators have until Friday to strike a deal on a budget for this year before the government shuts down.Warnings today from Democrats, including the President, that a government shutdown would hurt Americans deeply.For my part, I'm not at all convinced it's the end of the world.In fact, only one-in-four federal employees would be likely to be furloughed -- some 800,000 folks -- and that wouldn't include anyone involved in issues connected to human life or the protection of property. That's according to a 1981 law called the Deficiency Act.So if no deal is reached, the following would still be open for business:The military -- our troops overseas would continue to work and Congress is trying to pass a law to ensure they are still paid.Border security would still be on the job -- our ports and airports would still get protection.The president would be protected, too. The secret service detail wouldn't go home if there was no budget.And, air traffic control would also report for work -- even the pat downs would continue as TSA screening wouldn't stop.The post office would be open for business, too, mainly because it runs on its own funds, not taxpayer support.Ben Bernanke would have to report to work because the Federal Reserve would remain in business.Some things will indeed shut down -- if past experience is any guide. Applications for passports and visas could experience delays.Toxic waste would probably not get disposed of. National parks, museums and monuments would shutter.A lot is being made about the fact that the Cherry Blossom Festival wouldn't take place in New York -- but hey you can still go see the trees around the mall even so.Social Security recipients will still get their checks, but if you just applied or are applying for benefits now, all bets are off.If you're trying to buy a home, you should know the Federal Housing Administration won't be on the job, which means it may be harder to get a loan. Strangely, getting government out of the mortgage business was exactly what Republicans were aiming for -- though this is probably overshooting.And, by the way, getting a refund from the IRS will be a crapshoot if the government shuts down. You have slightly better odds if you file electronically, but there are no guarantees. Which figures -- we have to pay the bill, but Uncle Sam doesn't have to.Of course, we wouldn't be having this conversation if lawmakers had gotten their act together and passed a budget. We've been without a budget since this fiscal year started this past September 30 - and the deadline has been extended for months and months.And don't tell me you need another week...The American people have shown you what we want - what is taking you so long?How can we trust you with a 2012 budget when you can't figure out what to spend for six months?
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