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Shutdown means real pain

As the partial shutdown of the federal government enters its sixth day, it might be tempting to shrug off the effect on federal workers, as one out-of-touch congressman did. But don’t be fooled.

The approximately 800,000 federal employees facing the interruption of their pay include hundreds in Jackson County. They work for the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Internal Revenue Service, among others.

These are not “faceless bureaucrats.” They are ordinary working Americans, and they are just as dependent on regular paychecks as the rest of us.

Within the agencies making up the 25 percent of the government affected by the shutdown, “essential” employees will continue to work, but won’t get paid until Congress reimburses them.

And don’t get the idea that furloughed workers will just take paid time off. They can’t: all paid time off, including holiday pay, is canceled for the duration of the shutdown.

The really unfortunate part of this is that it results from a political dispute between President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress over $5 billion the president wants for a wall on the Mexican border. Trump claimed Christmas Day that federal workers had told him they wanted the wall and were willing to forgo pay to get it. Workers and their unions were quick to dispute that.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said last week that federal workers don’t live paycheck to paycheck.

While politicians and the president posture over a border wall that is more symbol than substance, real people are paying the price.