Unless something very significant changes in Washington in the next 12 hours or so the US government is going to start shutting down in in the early hours of Tuesday morning in a last-ditch attempt to keep from defaulting on its debts. To be clear, the entire mess is avoidable; the budget line-items covered by a debt increase amount to expenditures which Congress has already signed off on and the only thing standing between the House and a budget that would sail through the Senate and across the President's desk is political grandstanding over an issue on which they've already held more than 40 votes.
What's happening in Washington right now amounts to the Republican Party threatening to wreck the nation and its economy if they don't get their way. It's government by hostage taking.
Nowhere will the effects of the GOP's budgetary extremism be felt more profoundly than the suburbs of Washington DC where millions of federal workers and contractors live. As agencies shut their doors the workers and contractors who keep those institutions running will be put on furlough. Millions of suburban families in and around Washington DC will see their income streams dry up over a politically doomed and unrealistic Republican crusade.
The people who run the restaurants, gas stations, printing shops, dry cleaners, and other service businesses which depend on those federal workers will also see their income drop. As a whole, the economy of the entire Washington DC Metro Area will grind to a sudden and inevitable halt. The damage, both to indidivual livelihoods and to the national economy will be tremendous: easily on par with the landfall of a major hurricane or other natural disaster.
But this disaster will be manmade and, specifically, made by the Republican Party and the partisan firebrands within it which would rather see government shutdown and economic collapse than the funding of a law supported by roughly 60% of the American people.
There are, however, some bright spots in all of this.
First, traffic on I-66 and I-495 is bound to be reasonable for the first time since the Clinton Administration. Second, some of the quite understandable anger against the GOP writ large may translate into the upcoming Virginia Governor's race.
The rest, however, is a cavalcade of entirely preventable stupidity. Unfortunately, it's the Tea Party wingnuts who can prevent it so... well... get ready for stupid.