What the US government shut-down tells us

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, October 8, 2013
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 [By Li Feng/China Daily]

 [By Li Feng/China Daily]

The U.S. government partial shut-down – beginning on October 1 when the new fiscal year started – occurred because the White House and Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed to break through a budget standoff over President Obama's signature healthcare law, also known as Obamacare.

This is the first government shut down in seventeen years, meaning 800,000 federal workers are furloughed and more than 1 million others are asked to work without pay. On the fifth day of the government's partial closing, the House passed a bill to guarantee that furloughed workers would receive back pay once the shutdown ended. President Obama also signed a measure that allows members of the military to continue to be paid.

National parks and museums and points of interest such as the Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument have closed their doors, much to the chagrin of both foreign and domestic tourists. A most noted event is the National Zoo's online "Panda Cam" no longer broadcasting images of giant panda Mei Xiang's latest cub. When California woman Sheila Caraway failed to get her tax refund to pay her cable TV bill, she said, "I think everyone has gone crazy right now." She was only slightly exaggerating. People are currently dismayed to the extent that public support of Congress has dipped to a nadir of 12 percent.

The Affordable Care Act has been on the books for three years now and the Supreme Court largely upheld it in a 2012 ruling. Yet President Obama wrongly assumed his re-election would break the Republican "fever" of opposing him and his agenda. He underestimated the determination of the scores of most conservative, so-called Tea Party, Republicans to foil his signature achievement that is the Obamacare.

We are not interested in joining the debate over the Affordable Care Act. Suffice it to say that Americans' support of Obamacare has fallen to 39 percent. Nevertheless, only 27 percent of Americans want Republicans to shut down the government over Obamacare.

This development demonstrates the ideological polarization of two major political parties, extreme partisanship and the loss of institutional patriotism among members.

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