Unless you've been living in a cave recently -- Osama, you can stop reading here -- you know that the Republicans have blocked the passage of the appropriations bills that apply to all federal spending between April 8 and September 30, so we are facing a government shutdown.
And as the White House has patiently pointed out, that means no more government-backed mortgages, which now account for 95% of the housing market.
No more government student loans. No more government small-business loans.
No pay for the troops, who are now embroiled in three wars. They still have to fight. They just won't be paid for it. Despite the Thirteenth Amendment.
No tax refunds, just one week before taxes are due.
No federal grants for roads, schools, or pretty much anything else.
No new medical research at the National Institutes of Health.
And hundreds of thousands of federal employees added to the unemployment rolls.
But there is one thing that you can still do, if the government shuts down.
You can go broke.
I'm a licensed attorney, and yesterday I received this cheerful reminder from a bankruptcy court to which I'm admitted:
"The Court will continue to operate, business as usual, on Monday, April 11, 2011."
The staff, the bankruptcy court explained, will be paid out of "fee revenue and other sources." Anyone who wants to petition for bankruptcy will be welcome to do so.
So there it is. When the Republicans shut down the government, health and safety, housing and even transportation are all at risk. But the one thing that you can be sure you can still do is... go broke.
For the bankruptcy courts, it's "business as usual." And the bankruptcy business is booming.
But leaving that one exception to the government shutdown aside, it's now official. The Party of No is now the Party of No Government. The Party of Anarchy. The Party of Chaos.
And remember this: The White House and the Democratic Leadership have agreed (rightly or wrongly) to what the Republicans originally demanded for the 2011 budget -- $30 billion in social spending cuts. Yet now the Republicans are demanding twice as much: $60 billion in 2011 social spending cuts.
But just three months ago, the Republicans insisted on $70 billion in 2011 in tax cuts for the rich. I'm pretty sure that $70 billion is more than $60 billion, any way you look at it. So except for those tax cuts for the rich, we wouldn't be having this argument.
Please make a note on your calendar. November 6, 2012. Election Day. That's when it will be our turn to punish them, the way that they've tried to punish all of us.