Anger, Anxiety Voiced Over Shutdown Prospect

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Federal employees and the constituents they serve here in San Diego are on edge, as a partial federal government shutdown looks more and more likely as of midnight EDT Friday.
     
    If, as it's been said, that 'all politics is local', now it's getting personal as well.

      Millions of average citizens and hundreds of thousands of rank-and-file employees of Uncle Sam are on the verge of major disruptions in their lives and finances.
     
    "They're talking about sending us home without pay," said Malcolm Gettman, an IRS revenue officer in San Diego.  "There's a few people who'll have to come in and work without pay, with a promise that maybe down the road, they'll get paid. 
     
    "And along with this, part of the discussion is (about) federal employees taking yet another 10 percent pay cut."
     
    Gettmann, president of Chapter 92 of the National Treasury Employees Union, says morale among members is at an all-time low among his chapter's 400 IRS employees in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
     
    "Another rumor has surfaced that they only want to pay us 75 percent of our salary for the remaining portion of the fiscal year," Gettman noted during an interview Friday outside the downtown federal office building. 
     
    "Well, my mortgage company doesn't want 75 percent of the payment. They want it all."
     
    Gettmann warns that a lot of taxpayers will have to endure delays in getting refunds, and do without all sorts of administrative services that won't be staffed during a shutdown.
     
    "They're trying to balance the federal budget on the backs of federal employees," he said.  "And really, you don't get any savings at all.  It ultimately costs the American taxpayer."
     
    Social Security checks will go out, but processing of new benefit applications and trouble-shooting on bureaucratic red-tape issues will be backlogged.
     
    "There's going to be pandemonium in the senior citizen community; it's stressing out," said Social Security recipient Mary Jane Pye, as she surveyed Friday's lunch-hour dining room gathering at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center downtown.
     
    "People are afraid, and when they don't have any money, maybe this is going to stop," Pye added.  "We never know.  We're so worried about money from day-to-day."
     
    Other seniors voiced anger over the stalemate in Washington, as well as anxiety.
     
    "(Congress) should have paid more attention -- started paying more attention -- to all these problems so it wouldn't have come to this point," said Social Security recipient Maria Townsend.
     
    "We have politicians, both sides, who are bickering with each other, posturing with each other," said Paul Downey, CEO of Senior Community Centers, which operates ten senior wellness facilities in San Diego.
     
    "They ought to come here," Downey said, "and see people who are impacted by their playing around with people's lives."