Government shutdown will have little impact locally

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) —  On Friday, with just three days until the deadline, the Democratically controlled U.S. Senate approved legislation to avert a government shutdown.

But Republican House leaders said they are unwilling to approve the same bill. That means a third of federal workers could be told to stay home starting Tuesday.

If that happens, national parks will see an impact. Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new applications.

Roy Bee of Newton Falls is angry and concerned about what a government shutdown will mean for him if Congress doesn’t act.

“Our checks stop coming and right on down the line,” Bee said.

While airports are not expected to be affected, there may be delays in processing of visa and passport applications. Cornersburg Travel agent Mary Ann Dwyer said that could force customers to cancel overseas trips, so they may want to to buy insurance.

In Warren, Mayor Doug Franklin said he will be keeping a close eye on projects that use federal money.

“My concern would be a delay in reimbursements for some of our programs such as street resurfacing programs, the transitional housing program,” Franklin said.

But not all government would stop operating. National security, health and safety would go on as usual.

The mailman will still deliver letters, but post offices inside federal office buildings may have to close. Active duty military personnel are exempt from furloughs. Federal courthouses, like the two in Youngstown, would keep running at least 10 days after the shutdown, using fees and other money.

And although Wall Street fears the worst, such as plunging stocks and economic upheaval, history shows those fears are likely unfounded. There have been 17 government shutdowns since 1976, ranging in length from one day to 21 days, and none have caused a market meltdown.

The average decline in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index during a shutdown lasting 10 days or more is about 2.5 percent. For shutdowns lasting five days or fewer, the average decline is 1.4 percent. Shutdowns may even offer a buying opportunity, according to one local financial expert.

“Anytime you talk about the market, people are going to be invested in the stocks side with their 401(k), so you can use that as a time to possibly buy more. The closer you are to retirement, you really need to gauge how much risk you should be taking with your portfolio anyway,” said Brian Laraway of Bury Financial Group.

For those just starting out with their 401(k), Laraway said not to worry and ride out any financial storm since the country is sure to go through this again and again. The debt ceiling has been raised 74 times since 1962.

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