“I work for a living,” Seymour said, “but I can’t make it day to day.”
The shutdown’s effects are manifesting farther up the income ladder as well. It could cost Carolyn Barschow Thompson and her husband, Matthew, a two-bedroom Cape Cod on two acres outside Portland, Maine, that they fell in love with in August.
To buy the house, the couple got around their imperfect credit rating with help from a rural development loan guarantee from the Agriculture Department. They signed a contract in late August for less than $200,000, Thompson said, and the house was appraised Tuesday. But their lender told the couple that without the Agriculture Department’s final sign-off, they could lose the house.
The seller has agreed to wait — for a few days. “But they’re not pleased,” said Thompson, 31, a preschool teacher. “We’re so worried that she’s going to put the house back on the market.”
Even when the government reopens, the backlog of accumulated paperwork could delay their closing for weeks. They could apply for a conventional loan with a higher interest rate, but their lender would still need the Internal Revenue Service to verify their income. The workers who process those forms are furloughed.
Thompson was already imagining the garden they would plant and the duck pond out back. “We were finally starting to feel like we were in the clear,” she said.
Wherever government regulation reaches, people are starting to see roadblocks. Russell, the Pittsburgh rum maker, thought he was on his way when he got a shipment of 2,500 pounds of sugar and revved up his still last week.
But until the 500-employee agency tucked within the Treasury Department approves his label, “I can’t make any income, because I can’t sell anything,” said Russell, 31.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approves labels for new alcoholic beverages, grants permits for wholesalers and imports, and signs off on new formulas for wines and spirits.
At Lake Effect Brewing in Chicago, owner Clint Bautz has several new beers whose labels and formulas await federal approval. He can still sell his flagship beers and must keep paying the $7-per-barrel federal excise tax. Shutdown or not, the government collects taxes.