Projected Shutdown Cost: Over $65 Million Per Week of Lost Revenue in Passports & Visas

A B1/B2 visa to the United StatesImage via Wikipedia

Our heroes in Congress averted the almost certain government shutdown at high midnight this past Friday, crafting an agreement with just 120 minutes to spare to keep the wheels of government running.  Although that is over now, the budget fight is just heating up and a shutdown is still possible over the debt ceiling and over the 2012 budget showdown.     

The State Department in its statement on the preparation for possible government shutdown said that routine visas will not/not be issued and that “consular officers around the world routinely adjudicate approximately 200,000 applications each week” (includes issuances and refusals.)

You know, the State Dept has publicly available stats on visa issuance by country, but almost never publicly acknowledge its refusal numbers.  So at least out of this, we now know that the US Government processes approximately 200,000 visa applications per week. That includes applications for tourist and business visas, student and exchange visitors, as well as crew members of airline, ships and transit visas through the United States.  Multiply 200,000 visa applications with $140.00 a pop for the regular visa application fee (other visa type fees range from $150 – $2,250.00) and you get about $28,000,000.00 per week that won’t go to the US Treasury, in the event of a shutdown.

So — that’s about $5.6 million daily loss of visa revenue if consular sections worldwide stop visa operations for a day.  $112,000,000.00 for four weeks of non-visa operation.  And $1.456 billion lost to the treasury for 52 week of government shutdown.  I should note that this is “almost” enough but not quite to run the annual operation of our US Embassy in Baghdad.

And we call visa operations non-essential.

In 2010, nearly 14 million passports were also issued, the third highest annual total in the history of the State Department. It was more than double the number in 1995, when we had that other exciting shutdown and blizzard. At $140 per passport, that was a  $1.96 billion addition to the US Treasury last year. A week of non-passport operation means $37.69 million of lost revenue. A month of shutdown means $150.8 million of lost revenue.  This comes out to a daily loss of $7.5 million in passport revenue based on last year’s passport numbers.

It’s not grandma’s consular operations, anymore.  But, hey! It’s not like the U.S. Treasury needs the money.

If you already have a personal emergency plan in the event of a government shutdown, stick to it; this is going to get rougher.

US Mission Afghanistan: CODEL Marino 03.23-24.2011

Representatives Michael Grimm (R-NY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tom Marino (R-PA) and John Sarbanes (D-MD), visit the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on March 23-24, 2011.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr

US Mission Mexico: Three Posts Warning on Possible Threat to American Citizens

The Consulate General in Matamoros issued on April 8, 2011 a new warden message warning of possible threat to American citizens in three consular districts. Excerpt below:

The United States Consulates General in Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, and Monterrey advise American citizens that the U.S. government has received uncorroborated information that Mexican criminal gangs may intend to attack U.S. law enforcement officers or U.S. citizens in the near future in Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and San Luis Potosi. This information is being distributed to all U.S. government employees in the three states. No other information is available. If more detailed information is developed, we will advise American citizens immediately.

Related links:

Matamoros (the southern part of Tamaulipas with the exception of the city of Tampico): Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (011)(52)(868) 812-4402.

Monterrey (Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and the southern part of Coahuila): Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente, telephone (011)(52)(818) 047-3100.

Nuevo Laredo (the northern part of Coahuila and the northwestern part of Tamaulipas): Calle Allende 3330, col. Jardin, telephone (011)(52)(867) 714-0512.

Read in full here.

Congress Govt Shutdown Averted by Cowardly Reps Who Will Do This Again, and Again in the Near Future

Oops, the original blog title had the word shitdown. Noooooo, we I mean shutdown with a “u”…darn that interfering “i”!

So — the U.S. Federal Government will open as usual tomorrow.  The government shutdown was averted at the very last hour by adept negotiations of folks who allowed it to reach the brink in the first place. Thanks all around, eh? But you know, if they all did their jobs in the first place, we won’t have had that nail biter close to midnight on Friday night.

Thank Congress for spiking the blood pressure of many! Don’t worry, you’ll get back a canned letter talking about Libya!

Apparently, it’s good living on the edge. Oh, the rush and great press, too. Why sit down and do real work when you can be all drama in front of the tee-vee all day and all night talking about, ahem, yourself and your hard work on behalf of the American people?  

And this is not like, the end, of course. There’s the debt ceiling fight coming up in a few short weeks, then the 2012 budget fight coming up with the Ryan budget proposing cuts in the international affairs and foreign assistance by 29 percent in 2012 and 44 percent by 2016.  All while increasing the defense budget by 14 percent over the same time. Read more here.

Have your sigh of relief now while you can.  We all might run out of nails to bite this spring and summer as the budget battles heat up.  As if we really need any more excitement to our already temperamental and wild weather this year.  And it’s only April. But that’s the way it supposedly goes in this land of ours. 

Many times this past weeks, watching the news was just disgusting bizness. I’ve actually ran out of words to describe such juvenile antics among our elected representatives.  Sugar high, check. Self-interest, check. Kids not playing nice in the playground, check.  Throw out the tee-vee — almost did that, too, until I realized I could not afford a new tee-vee with clowns in it.

Here is NYT’s Kristof calling our Congress, cowardly and junior high in the same piece. Oh, righto, dat, too, but seems mighty unfair to junior high folks.

Our Cowardly Congress
By Nicholas D. Kristof

This isn’t government we’re watching; this is junior high.

It’s unclear where the adults are, but they don’t seem to be in Washington. Beyond the malice of the threat to shut down the federal government, averted only at the last minute on Friday night, it’s painful how vapid the discourse is and how incompetent and cowardly our leaders have proved to be.
Democrats excoriated Republicans for threatening to shut down the government, but this mess is a consequence of the Democrats’ own failure to ensure a full year’s funding last year when they controlled both houses of Congress.

That’s when the budget should have been passed, before the fiscal year began on Oct. 1. But the Democrats were terror-stricken at the thought of approving spending bills that Republicans would criticize. So in gross dereliction of duty, the Democrats punted.

 Republicans say they’re trying to curb government spending and rescue the economy — but they threatened to shut down the government, even though that would have been both expensive and damaging to our economy.

The shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996 cost the federal government more than $1.4 billion, the Office of Management and Budget reported at the time. Much of that sum was for salaries repaid afterward for work that employees never did because they were on furlough. There were also lost fees at national parks and museums: tigers must be fed at the zoo, even if nobody is paying to see them.
What does all this mean? That we’re governed by self-absorbed, reckless children. Further evidence comes from a new study showing that American senators devote 27 percent of their press releases to “partisan taunts” rather than substance. “Partisan taunting seems to play a central role in the behavior of many senators,” declared the study, by Justin Grimmer of Stanford and Gary King of Harvard.

A bewildered Chinese friend asked me how the world’s leading democracy could be so mismanaged that it could shut down. I couldn’t explain. This budget war reflects inanity, incompetence and cowardice that are sadly inexplicable.

Read in full here.