A civil service job anywhere seems to guarantee stability, but that evaporated for many Americans whose paychecks are written in Washington, as the US federal government began to shut down activities at midnight last night. Broadly, it is because Republicans refused to approve a budget as President Obama and the Democrats would have it.
Adrian Lancashire, euronews: “We link up with our Washington correspondent, Stefan Grobe for a look at the big picture. How are things in the American capital, Stefan – and the whole of the country with so many workers expected to be told ‘go home’ today? What are the consequences of this political showdown?”
Stefan Grobe, euronews: “Well, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are facing indefinite furloughs – that means they are sent home – without pay – until there is an agreement in Congress. National parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Statue of Liberty, are closed now. And if the spending stand-off lasts until late October, veterans’ benefit payments will trickle to a stop. So, the shut-down will have a very real economic impact on very real people, right away.”
Lancashire: “What do the American people think about this? What are the next political steps?”
Grobe: “Well, let me tell you that Americans are looking at the grid-lock in Washington in disgust. But there is no end in sight. House Republicans insist on de-funding Obamacare as the price for keeping the government open – Senate Democrats and President Obama are calling this blackmail – and they are not going to negotiate. But this is just the first fiscal battle of this autumn; the debt ceiling must be lifted by mid-October; sometime in November or December a regular 2014 budget has to be passed. The chief question is: ‘how long can each party sustain a shutdown before folding?’”
Lancashire: “Today is the first day Obamacare is ‘launched’. People can go online to sign up for private health insurance…”
Grobe: “It is actually the public exchanges, the online exchanges where people can purchase health insurance that are launched today, and the government shutdown has absolutely no effect on this. This is funded by money that has already been appropriated. Obviously, there will be a few glitches – as always when something this big is launched. But – eventually – everybody expects Obamacare to be launched smoothly and to go on smoothly from here.”