Here we are. The government is set to shutdown at midnight barring some last minute compromise that would essentially involve the Republicans dropping the Obamacare issue. This seems increasingly unlikely to happen pre-shutdown. So what happens next?

There won’t be a thunderclap or clang of bells. First order of business? Draw up a dividing line between workers deemed essential or non-essential. Those in the first category will carry on operations. The others will power down until Congress comes to its senses and funds the government.

So, for example, park rangers would start locking up national parks. And most furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday.

Based on projections from 2011, under 40% of federal workers would be furloughed.

Most of the 3.3 million government workers are deemed “essential” — they’ll keep working. But more than 783,000 government employees will sit at home, according to a CNN analysis of contingency plans published by the federal government on Friday. Not all government agencies submitted contingency plans.

Some government services will continue – mail, military, and Social Security. But other services will stop such as passports and federal loan programs.

If the shutdown last awhile it will devolve into a blame game between the parties and then it will come down to who the public blames chiefly for the problem. This happened in the 90s in a standoff between President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich. Gingrich is widely believed to have lost that perception battle and been blamed by the public, forcing concessions.

Here we go again.

Photo by Powerhauer under Creative Commons license.