Sorting out who is essential

During the previous government shut-down in 1995-6, I lived in the National Capital Region (NCR) otherwise known as the suburbs of Washington DC. This was when Newt Gringrich was Speaker, and the throes of the “Contract With America” (my lefty pals called it Contract on America, haha!) Which of course it was.

Anyway. At the time, great stock was put in your status as “essential” which meant that you could still ride the slug-line into DC, or catch the Orange Line wearing your long black raincoat. “Non-essential” workers meanwhile were furloughed, had to sit at home and did not pass go and collect their paychecks.

Now that we’re in another government shut-down the same distinction is once again very visible. What’s different about this shut-down is that’s revealing how many of the civilian defense and intelligence contractors (paid by the government) are essential.

The answer? Less than 30 percent (28% to be exact, according to Dianne Feinstein). This will cut 12,500 contractors out of the CIA, for example.

Although ODNI may pull some of those civilians back, this is a good figure to keep in mind. Only 28% of IC contractors are officially “essential.”


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