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Clock runs out in Washington

"Clock runs out in Washington" Continued...

“A bad day for government is a good day for the anarchists among us,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Those who believe in no—I repeat, no—government. That is their belief.”

Obama argued “a shutdown will have a very real impact on real people right away.” But many services deemed essential will not be affected. Those include payments such as Social Security and veterans’ benefits. In the 1995 shutdown about 80 percent of Social Security Administration employees stayed on the job. Inspectors will continue to test food and drugs, agents will continue to patrol the border, and air traffic controllers will continue to monitor the nation’s airports. The military will remain active and the Postal Service will deliver mail.

According to research by The Heritage Foundation, only about 800,000 of a total of nearly 4.5 million federal employees were affected by the November 1995 shutdown while just 300,000 were furloughed in the second shutdown from December 1995 to January 1996. Today, federal employees represent about 2 percent of the nation’s non-agricultural workforce. About 825,000 of those federal workers face being furloughed with the shutdown. Lawmakers will continue to get paid during the shutdown. Sen. Ted Cruz, the freshman Republican from Texas who spearheaded the drive to tie Obamacare defunding efforts to the government’s budget, has said he will donate his salary to charity for each day the government is shuttered.

With the shutdown, the Republicans will argue that Democrats brought it on by refusing to budge on Obamacare while Democrats will blame Republicans by claiming Obamacare is the law of the land and can’t be changed. In the midst of all these disagreements, Congress did agree to one thing on Monday: Both the House and Senate approved a measure to ensure that military paychecks are not interrupted by a shutdown. Obama even signed into law late Monday this bill exempting the effects of a shutdown on the military.

But with the government shutdown showdown, the bipartisan game of hardball, and the name calling, it is not surprising that just 10 percent of Americans in a new CNN poll say they approve of the job Congress is doing. That’s a record low.

“Obamacare’s not popular,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told reporters about the shutdown late Monday night. “But we’ve managed to find the one thing less popular than Obamacare.”

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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