Museums, national parks, and arts venues are shutting down or forcing many of their employees to work on furlough until the crisis is over (“furlough” is basically the same thing as “volunteer” except with more hostility on the employee’s side).
Last night, October 1st, the Ford Theatre said they would shut down and move their current production of The Laramie Project to the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. The reason for the shutdown is not because the Ford’s Theatre Society is a government agency – they’re a nonprofit, like most regional theatres – but the building they manage is a national historic site. Despite offers to make up the financial difference through fundraising, the site was ordered (finally, after some conflicting messages) to shut down.
“I think the reality is there were cooler heads prevailing back then,” Paul Tetreault, the society’s director, said of the shutdown in 1996. “We believe that the costs the federal government incurs from Ford’s Theater are negligible. We gave assurances that we would reimburse them for any of those costs. But these decisions are not being made by logical or practical matters, and are being made by ideological matters. Our patrons and employees are being taken in as pieces in a greater chess game.”
But on Friday night, Cruz told a Texas audience that he plans to keep his Senate paycheck during the shutdown while much of the rest of the government grinds to a halt and other federal employees go without pay. A handful of other senators and members of Congress have said they won’t take a salary starting this week if they don’t pass a continuing resolution to fund the government, but so far Cruz is the only one to say he has no plans to stop getting paid.
“At least at the current time, I have no intention to do so,” Cruz said when an audience member at the Texas Tribune festival asked if he would forgo his Senate salary if Congress fails to reach an agreement this week to fund the federal government. Cruz added that he had not given much thought to the question before and reiterated that he doesn’t think the government should shut down.
WIC is shutting down, federal regulations are shutting down, we might see cuts or stops in pensions, disability, Medicare and Medicaid, the arts, museums, and parks, and we’re forcing some of the most important federal employees – border patrol, TSA agents – to work without pay, but Ted Cruz promises everyone he will still get paid. What a sacrifice for his beliefs.