Editorial: Looming government shutdown reflects badly on Congressional leaders
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 22:09
At the time of writing, our nation is still in a situation where the members of Congress cannot come to an agreement over spending appropriations. Failure to do so would result in a government shutdown for the first time since Bill Clinton was in office. Regardless of whether a last-minute deal is reached or if we do end up shutting down the government, this whole debate has reflected poorly on our representatives.
In the event of a shutdown, not all aspects of the government would be closed. There are plenty of government workers and functions that have been deemed as “essential” and will continue to receive pay and function as normal. However, there are also about 783,000 government employees that would stay home according to current contingency plans. Those furloughed would include national park workers, for example. Originally, pay would also have been cut for men and women serving in the military should the government shutdown. However, a bill ensuring payment for military members in the event of a shutdown unanimously passed the House and should pass the Senate as well.
The government has shut down multiple times in the past so it certainly is not anything new. However, its effects will largely depend on the length of the shutdown. If it is only for a few days, the overall economic impact will be relatively minimal. If it lasts for three or four weeks, it could reduce GDP by 1.4 percentage points for the quarter according to economist Mark Zandi.
Perhaps the larger issue is we have allowed ourselves to get to this point. A simple stop gap measure should be easy to pass through the legislative body; however there is a self-made impasse on the issue of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. As part of the deal proposed by Republican lawmakers, the health care law would be delayed a year and a tax on medical devices would be lifted. This proposal was promptly turned down by the Senate, as will any other one that involves changes to Obamacare according to Democrats.
Each side has pointed fingers at the other, but there will be shared responsibility if the government shuts down. The level of uncertainty alone that has been created by this talk of a government shutdown is bad for our economy. And if we do shut down it will not just be a financial hit to thousands of workers but also a continuation of the notions of impenetrable gridlock and failure to compromise that has plagued Congress.