Here we go again.
A possible U.S. government shutdown on Thursday, Oct. 1 has once again raised the prospect of throwing federal agencies into chaos, costing taxpayers billions of dollars in lost government productivity, along with a wide range of interruptions that will put a damper on billions more in business and personal financial transactions.
While the economic fallout from any repeat impasse will likely be limited, former top Treasury official Roger Altman told CNBC, "There's no guarantee of that."
Unlike the last congressionally self-inflicted upheaval two years ago, the political squabble threatening to bring Washington to a crawl is based on allegations that Planned Parenthood was involved in the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue for medical research. The allegations stem from a video produced by an anti-abortion group, which Planned Parenthood officials say was heavily edited to "significantly distort and misrepresent" the group's activities.
Several dozen Republicans are threatening another shutdown Thursday unless federal funding for the women's health organization is cut off.
Planned Parenthood in its latest annual report said it gets about $450 million a year in federal funds, according to the Congressional Budget Office, or less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the roughly $3.6 trillion federal budget.
But that budget authority runs out at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, setting up a showdown that could once again force federal agencies to suspend services and send government workers home.
Estimates of the overall economic impact are difficult to make, largely because some of the fallout would be indirect.
In January 2014, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated the direct impact of the last shutdown, in October 2013, lopped about three-tenths of a percent off real gross domestic product growth in the 2013 fourth quarter. That was in line with estimates from private economists, who figured the impact of the shutdown came to, at most, a few tenths of a percent of GDP.
The 16-day shutdown also sidetracked the creation of an estimated 120,000 new jobs, according to a report from the Council of Economic Advisers.
The immediate impact would be felt by government workers, whose paychecks would be suspended and jobs would be subject to furlough. In October 2013, those furloughs amounted to 6.6 million days' worth of federal employment spread across dozens of agencies. More than 2 million of those days were lost to furloughs at the departments of Defense and Treasury alone.