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US shuts down due to budget crisis

October 4, 2013

Government shutdown is affecting over 800,000 employees

Eight hundred thousand federal employees are off the job due to the government shutdown.  The shutdown is a result of failure by the government to come to an agreement over the budget or to approve a continuing resolution which would allow the government to be funded.  A budget has not been passed in five years.

The funding of the Affordable Healthcare Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, is the central issue that caused the stalemate at the Capital and led to the shutdown.  Many House and Senate Republicans have targeted this law and sought to end it.  This is because those Republicans elected in 2010 and after were elected in part because of Obamacare’s dismal approval rating among the public.

Democrats, on the other hand, are standing by the President’s signature legislation.  President Obama was originally elected on the promise to do something about the healthcare system.  The result was Obamacare.  Democrats draw attention to the fact that this was passed into law by both the Senate and House (both, at the time, held by Democrats) and signed by the President.

Since Republicans do not have a majority in the Senate or are not in the White House their ability to go through normal political channels is halted.  This leaves them with only two options with which to challenge the law.  They can filibuster; however this option is best reserved for a short-term stall on a bill. The second, the one obviously chosen, is to remove funding which would cause the machinery to cease.

The deadlock has caused some agencies of the federal government to shut down. Some of the results include: delay in processing new disability claims, non-essential personal of various branches are put on furlough (time off without pay) and all national parks are closed.  Aid programs like “Women, Children and Infants” and “Head Start” are affected but programs such as the “Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program” or the food stamp program are not.  Vital services like the post office and military continue to run.

While Republicans do have popular opinion on their side in regards to Obamacare, their public support falters when it comes to a government shutdown.  According to a recent CBS poll, 72% of Americans disapprove of the shutdown.  44% of those polled blamed the Republicans for the shutdown while 35% blamed Democrats and 17% blamed both.

As the shutdown continues, more offices and services will be stopped.  This can only create a bigger dislike for the shutdown.  The shutdown looks to linger, too. Even after a meeting of the leadership involved, including President Obama, it seems that no progress is being made.

Elisha French
Political Editor

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