By Joe Mellor, In house Reporter
The US Government closed all but it’s essential operations on Tuesday when Republican lawmakers refused to approve money for Government operations without major changes to the new healthcare law, known as Obamacare.
It sounds farcical but the US is shut; no trips to the Statue of Liberty, Yosemite, or a chance to see the faces of four US presidents which represents the birth of the nation carved into Mt Rushmore.
I wonder what they would make of it all?
On Saturday, Secretary of State, John Kerry, warned that any prolonged shutdown could affect the US internationally. President Obama urged the Republicans to “end this farce.”
Essential services, such as social security, Medicare payments and the US military service will keep operating though.
But fear not, this isn’t the first time it has happened. In fact, it’s happened 17 times before (the last time was during Clinton’s presidency in 1995-96, which lasted 28 days).
Perversely, it actually reflects a democratic society. In the UK, the Chancellor declares the Government’s tax policy in the budget and we just grin and bear it. In the US, the President can’t force fiscal reforms through Capitol Hill.
But the argument has affected around 800,000 Government employees who were sent home without salaries, and who now could struggle to service their debts or mortgage repayments.
However, on Saturday, in a rare moment of bipartisan co-operation, the House of Representatives approved a bill, by 407-0, to pay the federal workers once the shutdown ends. I wonder if they will cover any late payment fees?
But the economic impact of this row is bound have wider impacts than the empty pockets of Government employees.
US Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker, said companies were starting to hurt both in the US and beyond.
At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Obama isn’t attending due to the shutdown crisis, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said;
“The US economy is the number one economy in the world, what happens there affects all of us.”
“The world economy is obviously not in a position to withstand too much shock at the time when we are just recovering as a global economy.”
So far, there’s no panic on the markets…yet.
Investors are calculating that the shutdown will be short. However, there is an even more worrying problem now entering the harbour, rather than on the horizon.
America has a legal limit on its borrowing of $16.7tn dollars, and is likely to hit that point in mid-October. Unless an agreement is reached, the US will default in the first time in its history.
Obama’s face won’t be carved into any mountains any time soon to remember this momentous occasion.
The Republicans, especially the Tea Party movement, are holding the nation to ransom. It is assumed that the Republican’s refusal to back down will affect their election chances.
But perhaps they are willing to lose the next election, as long as universal healthcare is curtailed.
Whether in power or not, the right in America has considerable clout. It’s nice to have a republican President, but not essential.
After a series of shocking murderous rampages, any chance of gun control was blocked with Obama himself saying;
“80 to 90 per cent of the country are agreeing with him in favour of gun control, but he could not get gun-control legislation enacted because of a faction of the Republican Party.”
In terms of the health care reforms, the President should be commended for sticking to his guns, no pun intended, to pursue a health service America can finally be proud of.
But with autumn approaching, will pride come before the fall?