The stage-managed character of the budget crisis was demonstrated by the decision by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to recall most civilian Pentagon workers so that the vast US military-intelligence apparatus will resume operations at nearly pre-shutdown levels.
Hagel cited the bill passed by Congress and signed by Obama September 30, authorizing continuation of paychecks to uniformed military personnel.
He said that Pentagon lawyers had determined that the law allows him to end furloughs for everyone who contributes to the "morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members."
Some 350,000 of the 400,000 furloughed civilian employees of the Pentagon have been called back to work, including those engaged in commissary, payroll, administration, health care, supply chain, training, weapons production and intelligence functions.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats both supported Hagel's action, and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers followed suit, saying he would begin calling back civilian employees of the Coast Guard and other DHS agencies under the same interpretation of the law.
The result is that the federal "shutdown" hardly impacts the military, police and domestic spying functions of the government at all, but has a devastating effect on social services and on those agencies which regulate business operations, from the financial markets to slaughterhouses.
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