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Federal Furlough Expensive President Tells Work Force Another Shutdown Possible

Thu., Nov. 23, 1995

Last week’s six-day partial shutdown of the federal government could cost taxpayers as much as $800 million, the White House said Wednesday.

And President Clinton told the federal work force in an open letter that he can’t promise that the running budget fight with the Republican Congress won’t cause another mass furlough.

Clinton noted that the temporary agreement under which most of the government is now operating expires on Dec. 15.

“We can’t promise you that your jobs and your lives won’t be disrupted again,” Clinton said. “Too much is at stake for America. If you are held hostage again, we know you would not want us to forfeit the nation’s future as ransom.”

The White House pegged the cost of the six-day government shutdown at $700 million to $800 million with about $400 million representing payroll costs for furloughed employees who did no work.

The Treasury Department reported up to $400 million in revenue was lost by the lack of enforcement action by the Internal Revenue Service over a fourday period, the White House added.

The Office of Management and Budget reported that additional future costs are to be expected because of penalties incurred when the government does not pay its bills on time and because of additional personnel costs needed to deal with the backlog of work.

The White House ticked off a list of shutdown consequences:

400,000 people were delayed in enrolling in Medicare.

112,000 claim applicants were turned away by the Social Security Administration, which also didn’t handle 212,000 requests for new or replacement Social Security cards, 360,000 office visits and 800,000 toll-free calls for information.

More than 2 million people were denied access to national parks.

More than 80,000 passport applications were delayed.

More than 80,000 visas were delayed, causing international tourists to postpone or cancel trips to the United States, thus hurting airlines, hotels and tourist sites.

Mortgage loans worth more than $800 million to more than 10,000 low-and-moderate-income working families were delayed by the six-day closing of the Federal Housing Administration.

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