I work in County government … we began addressing the economic issues years ago when the housing market tanked (and our revenues decreased). The first year we had to implement furloughs, a hiring freeze with all exceptions approved by a special committee, and a purchasing oversight committee that monitored/approved purchases that exceeded a particular threshold. Also deferred/delayed/reduced were some non-essential programs (land preservation purchases, local grants, etc). Yes, it made getting things done more challenging, and yes we have reduced the workforce over the past 4 years or so. The result — we have a AAA bond rating for the second year in a row, and we did get a small raise this year (it just about covered the 2% that came back into the federal payroll tax).
Also, we are required to balance the operating budget every year, though we can borrow for Capital if approved by legislation. However, unlike the federal government we don’t just ignore debt or print more cash.
It is not like it is a surprise that the federal government spends more than it has. This situation did not just sneak up on the President & the Senate/House … they are just playing a game of political “chicken” with it. The bottom line is that the federal employees & the taxpayers will bear the brunt of the negative impacts & the elected officials will move on to some other issues and continue with their irresponsible behavior.