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World Reaction to US Government Shutdown

by Stephen Lendman Wednesday, Oct. 02, 2013 at 12:35 PM


World Reaction to US Government Shutdown

by Stephen Lendman

This writer reacted by saying what a way to run the country. So did London's Telegraph. It headlined "American shutdown: no way to run a country."

Washington agencies partly or entirely halted operations. They did so ignominious. Around 800,000 federal workers were furloughed.

They're on unpaid leave. They're temporarily laid off through no fault of their own. Both sides share blame. They maintain rock hard positions.

Neither party's willing to give a little. They won't bend for the good of the country. They won't sacrifice self-interests to save millions of ordinary Americans from enormous harm.

"Perhaps this latest debacle will provide the sentinel moment when the American public jointly rises up in anger and simply demands better, more realistic, problem-solving government," said the Telegraph.

"But we shouldn't bet on it. When choices are truly hard, raging, however infantile, is the all-too easy way out."

The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. It's totally, dysfunctional, out-of-control, corrupt, lawless and self-serving.

Both parties share equal blame. Profiles in courage are sorely lacking. Rare exceptions prove the rule. Democracy is a convenient illusion.

Self-interest is the coin of the realm. Ordinary people are always harmed most. More on that below.

The New York Daily News headlined "House of Turds. DC cess-pols shut down government. They get paid while nation suffers."

Obama and Senate Democrats share blame. Daily News editors didn't explain. Nor did the New York Times editorial board. It headlined "John Boehner's shutdown," saying:

"By Tuesday morning, the leadership failure of Speaker John Boehner was complete."

"(H)e pushed the country into a government shutdown that will now begin to take a grievous economic toll."

"At any point, (he) could have stopped it. He refused. He made increasingly ridiculous demands."

Obama and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D. NV) share  blame. Each side jousts for political advantage. They do it dismissively.

They don't give a damn how ordinary people suffer. They never did before. They don't now.

They support wealth, power, privilege and dominance. They sacrifice vital human needs in the process.

They governed this way for years. They're worse than ever now. Don't expect Times editors to explain.

Wall Street Journal editors headlined "A GOP Shutdown Strategy." They called Obama "an AWOL president."

"Pressure will build on Republicans to break ranks in the kind of unruly retreat that would demoralize their own voters," they said.

"A long shutdown followed by surrender would be the worst possible result."

Journal editors urged "giv(ing) up on the impossible task of defunding or delaying ObamaCare." Focus instead on winning small victories, they stressed.

Delaying the individual mandate would be a huge one. Obama unilaterally deferred it for business.

Ordinary Americans deserve equal treatment. Senate Democrats might agree. They'd have a hard time explaining why not. Obama would be obliged to go along.

Congress gets special subsidies. They're unavailable to ordinary Americans. Governing this way is a major inequity.

Louisiana Senator David Vitner's amendment aims to rescind it. Passage perhaps is doable.

In 1994, Speaker Newt Gingrich/House Majority Leader Richard Armey's Republican Contract with America proposed ending Congress' habit of exempting itself from laws affecting everyone else.

Republicans have no chance to defund Obamacare while Obama remains president.

"(S)ooner or later (they'll) have to fund the government and raise the (approaching) debt ceiling..."

Both sides must compromise. Eventually they always do.

The Financial Times (FT) headlined "America flirts with self-destruction. The fallout of a US government default, particularly one that lasts, is beyond prediction."

"Is the US a functioning democracy?" On Tuesday, Congress partly shut down government. On or around October 17, a debt ceiling looms.

Failure to raise it risks "triggering default on US government" obligations. It's possible if both parties don't resolve differences.

It's likely if they keep acting irresponsibly. It's certain if unresolvable bickering becomes the new normal.

Goldman Sachs estimates a week-long shutdown will reduce Q IV GDP by 0.3%. Failure to raise the debt ceiling means the Treasury will run out of money by end of October.

By around mid-month, it no longer will be able to issue new debt. At best, failing to raise the today's ceiling would sharply cut spending. At worst, it means default.

Bank of America analysts believe once the ceiling is reached, America's budget must be balanced immediately.

Doing so would cut spending by 20%. GDP would drop 4% from its current level. These type risks are "suicidal," said the FT. A constitutional crisis would follow.

"Playing chicken with credibly reckless people is always scary," the FT added. It remains optimistic.

It cited Winston Churchill once saying America always does the right thing. It does so after exhausting all other alternatives.

London Guardian editors headlined "US: the GOP and the mullahs."

They compared hardline Republicans to Iranian ideologues. They did so irresponsibly. They ignored dangerous ones infesting Britain, both parties in Washington, other European countries, Israel, Gulf monarchies, Egypt and other Arab League states.

They threaten world peace. Iranians want it preserved. Guardian editors didn't explain.

Congressional pragmatists worry about potentially permitting Congress' biggest ever suicide pact. If disruption is short, it won't matter.

If it drags on for weeks, both parties will suffer. So will Obama. Ordinary Americans will be harmed most. Growing numbers are fed up with both parties.

Eventually they'll react. For sure they will if they can't pay mortgages or feed their families.

According to Standard & Poor's:

"This sort of political brinkmanship is the dominant reason why (America's credit) rating is no longer 'AAA.' "

It's the main reason Main Street's been in protracted Depression. It's why harder than hard times loom.

It's coming whether Washington's shutdown is short or longer-term. It's from greater neoliberal harshness. Obama demands it. Democrats and Republicans agree.

Der Spiegel headined "Shutdown Spectacle: 'America Is Already Poltically Bankrupt,' " saying:

"German commentators describe the situation as a "specific American problem with far-reaching consequences."

Lady Liberty "stands bound in chains, her torch hand hanging listlessly by her side." Germans and other Europeans find it hard to fathom. They not sure whether to rage or cry.

In human terms, immediate harshness approaches. Diminishing social services will be disrupted. Delays will affect veterans awaiting approval of disability benefits. Pension payments will slow.

Federal medical research will be curtailed. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) won't accept new patients for clinical drug trials. Care for current patients will continue.

NIH's ability to detect and investigate disease outbreaks will be impaired. Most Centers for Disease Control staff is furloughed.

Food plant inspections will cease. The Consumer Product Safety Commission will stop recalls on all but the most dangerous products.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) shut down. It provides low-income family grants to states for supplemental food, healthcare, and nutrition education.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will approve fewer loans. Most of its staff is furloughed. Disability and other benefit payments may be delayed. Doing so won't affect Social Security and Medicare recipients.

Head Start education, health and nutrition help for low-income families with children will be adversely impacted.

Federal occupational safety and health inspectors will suspend work except in cases of imminent danger.

Federal workers without pay will have less money to spend. Immediate belt-tightening will follow. Goods and service providers will be impacted. How severely depends on how long shutdown lasts.

The Department of Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, national parks, monuments and zoos all had their employees furloughed.

Health and safety departments are partly closed. America's been declining for decades. It's going the way of all empires. It's dying a slow death.

It's been thirdworldized. Detroit reflects its epicenter. What's happening there affects America. How far behind are other major cities?

Nothing's done to change things. It's a national disease. Budget squabbles exacerbate it. America's middle class is largely eroded. It's disappearing altogether.

Hard times keep getting harder. Don't expect Congress or Obama to help. With no will, there's no way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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