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Columns

October 1, 2013

This shutdown stuff is making me nauseated

When my daughters were teenagers, they sometimes read a magazine called “YM” for “Young and Modern.” The publication had a regular feature titled “Most Embarrassing Moments,” where alleged teen girls would write in about publicly humiliating experiences, usually concerning with their bodily functions.

I have been reminded of that feature in recent days by some of the occurrences in the United States. Sometimes you are driven to those most embarrassing moments by the actions and statements made by politicians and others about current issues and events. 

And, eventually, despite your best efforts, that embarrassment can turn into anger and frustration.

For example, it could not get much more embarrassing than House Republicans being willing to let our government shut down today because they didn’t like the government health insurance program that was already approved by Congress in 2010.

Knowing the Senate and Obama would not go along, the House regardless early Sunday passed a spending plan that would delay Obamacare for a year and repeal a tax on medical devices. Without a last-minute deal, which Monday seemed unlikely, the government was set to shut down at 12:01 a.m. today.

The House last week wasted precious time by approving a budget that defunded Obamacare. Naturally, the Senate restored the money and sent the bill back to the House. The House went along with a temporary spending plan to avert a shutdown, but with the Obamacare delay attached along with a clause that allows employers and insurers to refuse to cover birth control.

All this may sound like business-as-usual for Washington politics, except that the stakes are so high. According to experts, a government shutdown would slow the economy, waste billions of dollars in federal money and scare already-jittery stock markets. And that’s not counting the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who would not be working, curtailing some services.

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