Resources for Talking about the Recurring Shutdown Showdowns

by Elaine Mejia on December 17, 2015 in December 2015 eNewsletter

It seems like only a few moments ago, as Speaker Boehner exited his role in the U.S. House of Representatives, that there was talk of a two-year budget deal. Two years with no showdowns that could lead to a shutdown of the federal government. It seemed too good to be true!

And it now appears that it was. After once again tgovernment shutdowneetering on the brink, this week Congress passed a continuing budget resolution, which gets us to December 22, and it looks like both sides have agreed on an omnibus bill that will fund the government until October 2016. It’s good news (though it does include some worrisome provisions including changes to the visa waiver program). While it may be a sign of progress it’s certainly not the new era of reasonableness and bipartisan cooperation we were hoping for.

Perhaps, rather than looking to our leaders for progress, we should strive instead to model good behavior for them. The upcoming holidays provide a great opportunity to work on talking to one another in a way that builds mutual understanding and a more pragmatic, less politicized stance. In preparation, we recommend arming yourself with a) some basic facts about what the real-world effects of government shutdowns, and b) some communications strategies designed to make progress without getting hung up on politics.

For some tangible examples of challenges our nation and our communities would endure if the federal government shut down, read this recent piece in the Washington Post. It highlights impacts such as timeliness of tax refunds, delays in home loan applications and national park closings.

For advice on how to navigate tricky conversations on this topic we offer this new tool, which we produced for our partner organization, Indivisible.

May the force be with you. If your holiday table often turns into a political battleground, the good news is it might be a bit easier to discuss the federal government in a civil way this year. Not only is the federal deficit at its lowest point since 2007, but fewer Americans cite the federal debt and deficit as a top concern. If you use any of these tips, drop us a line and let us know how it goes. We’re always looking for test cases that can help us refine our advice to communicators.

Public Funding for Science in Jeopardy (again)

by Elaine Mejia on January 16, 2014 in In the News

At Public Works we’re grateful for, though dismayed by, any news coverage that brings attention to the ongoing erosion of public funding for science and research. (We’re written before about the impacts of sequestration on research and how risk-taking research is … Continue reading

Doing Less with Less in Public Safety

by Public Works on September 30, 2013 in Government

Sometimes the popular mantra about “doing more with less” simply doesn’t work. This commentary by a former mayor and published in Governing magazine asks the question, “How low can you go in public safety?” Sometimes budget savings can’t be made … Continue reading

Communicating about the State Budget: A Primer

by Public Works on September 6, 2013 in Changemakers

Our friends and partners at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute develop a budget primer every year that does a good job of framing what a budget is for and why the decisions it embodies are important to a state’s quality of … Continue reading

Long-term Harms of Short-sighted Budget

by Public Works on August 29, 2013 in August 2013 eNewsletter

Chris Fitzsimon, the director of NC Policy Watch, authored this piece recently that looks at the long-term impacts of the recently adopted North Carolina state budget. Encouraging Americans to think beyond the immediate time horizon is an important part of … Continue reading

Critiquing the State Budget while Upholding Its Public Value

by Public Works on May 31, 2013 in Changemakers

In this Schmudget blog, Kim Justice criticizes Washington state lawmakers’ proposed budget. But she does it while focusing on the very values she wants those same lawmakers to consider–healthy people and a healthy environment, education and opportunity, economic security, and … Continue reading

Americans Ponder Sequestration Impacts

by Public Works on May 31, 2013 in May 2013 eNewsletter

Polls point to different conclusions about the extent to which Americans are concerned about the impact of budget cuts happening as a result of sequestration. This snapshot in the Washington Post looks at the results of recent polls. Here’s what … Continue reading