A common talking point on the left and right is that the Republican-engineered shutdown realizes a long-sought conservative goal: the wholesale shrinking of the federal government. But even during a shutdown, $250 billion--about four-fifths of what is normally spent--is automatically allocated every month. Social Security, Medicare, the military and national security are essentially insulated from shutdown shenanigans.
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Things were looking up for Melanie Rhodes. Rhodes, a single mother with a rambunctious, autistic three-year old had finally landed a job as a part-time bus driver. She just completed a physical and was waiting on the results of a mandatory drug test, but expected to start the job by next week. Then the federal government shut down.