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U.S. Government: Sorry, We're Closed 1532

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the that-time-of-year dept.
theodp writes "CNN reports that the U.S. government shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT Tuesday after lawmakers in the House and the Senate could not agree on a spending bill to fund the government. Federal employees who are considered essential will continue working. But employees deemed non-essential — close to 800,000 — will be furloughed, and most of those are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday."
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U.S. Government: Sorry, We're Closed

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  • by Open River (3182447) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @01:41AM (#44999243)
    Do they receive other benefits? Bummer being sent home in the run-up to the holiday season.
  • by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @01:49AM (#44999301) Homepage

    I love Slate's [slate.com] take on this. When you read it, substitute "Venezuela", "Uganda", or "Myanmar" for "America".

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:14AM (#44999439)

    If this happens in Australia (upper house repeatedly blocks bills from the lower house) we sack them all, and hold another election. It's called a double dissolution [wikipedia.org] (because both houses are dissolved simultaneously).

  • by nbauman (624611) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:29AM (#44999519) Homepage Journal

    When are they *not* coming for more money?

    You are not old enough to remember a time when you could go to a local government-funded university, like City College or U California, and get a college education basically free, without going $40,000 into debt.

    Sometimes the government collects taxes and uses it to pay for government services that are worth far more to the taxpayer than the cost of the taxes; sometimes government wastes the money.

    It's the job of an intelligent citizen to figure out which is which, not to cynically demonize government and shut it all down.

  • Re:The Blame Game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:30AM (#44999529)
    No, the house of representatives represents the will of the gerrymanderers. Theres a reason why the senate and president are Democrat controlled, while the House is republican controlled. Heres a hint: The republicans redrew district lines to increase republican votes!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:51AM (#44999675)

    I wouldn't say laughing stock. Although the country I live in has national health care, and the budget gets passed every year. I broke my elbow earlier this year. I saw 3 doctors in a local clinic, 1 E.R. doctor in a major hospital, 2 E.R. orthopedic surgeons, had 4 x-rays (about 6 weeks from start to finish), 1 (non-E.R.) orthopedic surgeon, about 4 nurses, and 1 physiotherapist. I had a splint for a week, tensor bandages, gauze with medical grade polysporin, medical grade tylenol and advil. I saw the last orthopedic surgeon 4 times, the physiotherapist 7 times. At no point did anyone ask for money. I pay taxes. I don't claim to live in the richest country in the world, but *somehow* I went from losing 1/4 square inch of bone and about 6 square inches of skin and muscle (about 1/4 inch deep), to being able to lift about 80 pounds with arm/elbow without pain, no visible scarring, and about 99% of the range of motion that I had before, all in about 10 weeks (I have 2 weeks to go before they consider it completely healed). I know Americans get huffy when people in other countries say they can do things that Americans can't. If it was sports or technology, there would be a shouting match on the web. Well the country I live in can have national medical coverage, and apparently, you cannot. Its not so much of a boast. I think America would be better off with what my country has. But that causes shouting matches *within America*. All I can say is "if you knew what I know, saw what I see, you would want what I have". But there are people who live in your country with vested interests in keeping medical costs very expensive, and unfortunately some people have to die because of it, needlessly. I think some of it is that I don't buy health Insurance, but pay taxes to health care. It costs about $20 per month per person (about $240 per year). I make about $30 per hour. This doesn't break my bank. Somehow I didn't pay a nickel in hospital for a broken elbow, and no one sent me a bill. Yet it worked for me, and works for everyone else where I live. No other countries in the world with medical coverage like what I have are laughing at the US. They are perplexed, bewildered, even quizzical over how so many Americans could be sold so crappy a bill of goods. There are no medical insurance companies getting rich here. There is no 'denied coverage' here. There are no 'pre-existing conditions' here. We don't have 'Health Insurance', we have 'Health Care'. Obamacare isn't even half as good as what I have, and people (Americans) are shouting over it. Bizarre! All the hospitals/clinics I visited are less than 10 years old, 1 is 6 months old, the x-ray (medical imaging machines) were less than 1 year old, laser guided, computer controlled. Economies of scale could work in the US too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @03:01AM (#44999733)

    Imagine if the Republicans stopped beating the horse they killed long ago.

    Imagine if the Democrats actually did something other than scream about Republicans wanting to destroy the Federal government. (For fuck's sake, a person would have to be completely batshit to believe any elected asshole wants that. Disclaimer: Pelosi is completely batshit.)

    Imagine if either party actually represented the people they were elected to represent.

    Imagine if the executive branch was restricted to the powers it legally has. Imagine if any of the three branches were restricted to the powers they legally have.

    Imagine if Congress just finally manned up and stopped this bullshit of throwing random, completely unrelated shit into pieces of legislation.

    It's fun to imagine.

  • by smash (1351) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @03:02AM (#44999737) Homepage Journal

    Roughly 16.7tn in debt. I.e., $16,700,000,000,000 and growing by a couple of trillion a year. Let's say that all the employees no longer getting paid are on $1,000 a week on average. Hell, let's be generous and make it $10,000 a week. That's $7,830,000,000 per week. Or 125 weeks to save 1 trillion from this. Assuming no other negative impact to the economy.

    The govenment will still be going backwards by roughly 2 trillion per year.

    Sure, its a symbolic guesture, but...

  • by GumphMaster (772693) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @03:14AM (#44999789)

    We also have section 54 in our constitution, which prohibits bills for appropriation of funds to run the annual business of government from dealing with any other matter. This seems to be the weak point in US law that is repeatedly exploited; holding funds for normal running to ransom over unrelated items.

  • Re:Fucking idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drkim (1559875) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @03:22AM (#44999823)

    Luckily, NSA and TSA are not considered non-essential government services?

    Apparently USDA is considered non-essential. They've already pulled the plug on the site:

    "Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available.
    We sincerely regret this inconvenience.
    After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to
    become available again.
    "

    www.usda.gov

  • Re:The Blame Game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @03:38AM (#44999895)

    All the news stories have been about "which political party should we blame."

    You want to know who to blame? All of the twits who have been cheering on "their team" while this has been going on, instead of pressuring their representatives to do their job. The members of Congress -- in both major parties -- feel no pressure to actually resolve the situation, because they've managed to trick their supporters in the media into giving them a pass while they wasted time instead of actually trying to come up with a solution that has a chance of working.

    There was a survey on CNN yesterday. They asked which party is acting like a spoiled child:

    * Obama 47%
    * Democrats 58%
    * Republicans 69%

    In other news, a Danish TV station I was watching yesterday had one of those round table discussions where everybody was scratching their heads over this strange situation. One of the panelists cited a survey that found that Congress has a 10% approval rating which it amused him to contrast with the fact that apparently socialism/communism has an 11% approval rating with the US public. If those percentages are correct, that last one is surprising. I figured the approval rating for socialism in the USA would be hardly measurable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @04:13AM (#45000093)

    Avoiding the US centric partisan flamebait here; from the outside looking in what people should be furious about is why during the entire period of Obamacare being introduced to being written into law, being challenged, then to 3 years late is why no one pointing out that the real problem you have in america is the pricing of health services regardless of who is the one trying to pay for them.

    You guys pay between twice to ten times as much for the same procedures or services as are paid in other countries (considering equal quality service). I'm not talking about going to mexico for back alley cosmetic surgery here, I mean proper care you find in places like Canada or the UK or Germany.

    And I'm not talking about the cost to the patient either, I mean the actual amount paid out in the end to the providers of the services. Obamacare just says things need to be paid for, but leaves out the problem of your current costing and the fact that your premiums will rise in all categories to cover the difference in claims.

    Your whole country is being taken for a ride and this drama is just another part of keeping the eyes away from the actual problem.

  • by M1FCJ (586251) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @04:37AM (#45000213)

    You did not get what Obama wanted (a proper, public health care system like NHS), you got what Republicans wanted, called it "Obamacare" and now Republicans don't even want that being passed.
    Don't you Americans read news or watch newspapers? I am shocked with the level of misinformation when it comes to your own laws.

  • Shedding the Federal government is not the same thing as anarchy. There is still state, county, and city government after that. What exactly do the Fed's do? Blow shit up, make enemies around the world, get us further and further into debt, engage in crony capitalism/privatize profit and socialize losses, destroy civil rights, etc. etc.

    So yeah, thinking of the Feds being shutdown makes me feel hopeful and happy. Now if the fuckers would just totally go move to N. Korea, the world would be comparative bliss.

  • Re:Fucking idiots (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @04:50AM (#45000273)

    Consider my views from a non US citizen, I'm from Europe, we have in all countries several parties (5 major ones on average i would say).

    Democrats are not far left... At all.

    What you have is a right wing highly conservative party and a more center party that has a social liberalism political view similar to what many western European countries have but still right wing in many economic views to our standards.

    For example calling him socialist or communist is very strange for us who have had socialist and communist governments and that look at our parties with the same views as Democrats as a right-center party.

  • Re:Fucking idiots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bfandreas (603438) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @06:48AM (#45000839)

    want to blame the Republicans but in reality it takes two tango and the Democrats don't want to negotiate

    Sorry dude, but I can give you countless examples over the last four years in which the Democrats moved quite a bit to the right during legislative negotiations while the Republicans moved exactly nothing. In fact in some cases further to the right after the first Democratic entreaties, there is at least one case in which Obama adopted the Republican proposal to the letter only for the GOP to say no.

    Also Obamacare is already the product of negotiation. And the GOP has already made very clear there is no middle ground. And Boehner has zero room for negotiation.
    The GOP is at the moment paralyzed by the success of the Tea Party. They are effectively holding the entire GOP hostage.

    There are only three ways this can end:
    The US defaults on its obligations. Which is bad. Terrifying bad. There will be movement before that as only the extreme right wing of the GOP seems to think this is acceptable.
    A constitutional crisis. The head of the state(which for whatever stupid reason is also the head of the executive branch) declares the houses unable to do their job. I don't know if the US has a plan for such a case but this would propably lead to elections. Which would take longer than the 3 weeks left.
    Members of the GOP who don't think to irrepably damage the US financially over Obamacare vote against the party line. Which will damage the GOP. Potentially tear it apart.

    I don't see a short/mid/longterm winning scenario for the GOP.

    Obama can't budge. There will be a constitutional crisis before he does.

  • Re:Fucking idiots (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @07:47AM (#45001285) Homepage
    While the people did elect Obama a second time they also elected a majority republican congress at the same time. The people did vote for a divided government, although I do wonder how many people were voting against Romney instead of voting for Obama.Considering that Obama got a higher percentage of the vote than the democrats did in congress (looks to be about 3%) it would seem likely that people were voting against Romney.

    I think we may have slipped into the scorched earth realm of politics and it will be interesting to see who caves at this point and how.If I were the republicans I would let the democrats sweat it out for a couple of days and get out in front cameras and point out how things aren't falling apart with the limited government shutdown and that essential government services are still functioning.I would also be quick to point out that it is that President Obama and democrats in the senate who refused to pass bills unless they got exactly what they wanted. If I were the democrats the plan would be similar except switch the blame and find someone who is now out of work and facing hardships instead of mentioning . Depending on how they want to play this could turn into a great media circus and if done right one side could come out smelling like roses.
  • Re:Fucking idiots (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @09:18AM (#45002323)

    Your electoral system gave the GOP a majority when they got notably less votes than the 'minority' Democrats.

    Yes, well, that sort of thing can frequently happen when you design a system where you actually elect individual people to serve particular districts, rather than collectively electing a "party" for the entire nation or something. It's far from a perfect system, but the House is designed where individual representatives are supposed to speak for specific groups of voters.

    Of course, gerrymandering makes it all much worse -- but that's hardly a Republican thing only.

    If I was a Republican I'd be embarrassed by the fact that my party was claiming to be the majority when they majority of voters in a democratic country didn't voted for the opposition.

    If I were a member of either of the two major parties, I'd be embarrassed by the way voters have been disenfranchised through gerrymandering. I don't think the Democrats should get a pass on this AT ALL. They are just as guilty of that sort of nonsense. It's just that Republicans currently are in the lead in terms of creating districts that effectively disenfranchise voters of the other party. (It's a little un-PC to note this, but Dems helped to contribute to this a little bit in previous decades, where Republicans and minority Dems occasionally teamed up to create racially gerrymandering districts that would help get minority representatives elected to Congress. While perhaps a noble cause, it also sometimes grouped too many Democrats into a single district, thereby diluting their influence on surround districts, which have now all turned Republican.)

    The budget should not be a matter of party politics because anything being funded should already have been accepted by the three branches of government.

    Personally, I don't think anything should be "a matter of party politics," because the two-party system itself does significant damage and sets the stage for the exact situations you're describing as problematic.

    But, that said, Congress has power to make laws, and it has power to repeal them. Without a Constitutional amendment, you're never going to be able to prohibit Congress from changing its mind and trying to backpedal on something it already agreed on.

    On the other hand, there is a kernel of truth to what you said in that Congress currently has conflicting laws in effect regarding the budget. All of this banter about the "debt ceiling" is nonsense, since appropriated federal funds MUST be spent -- BY LAW [wikipedia.org].

    Back in the days of Nixon and before, a President actually had the option not to spend all of the budget. Effectively, he could "impound" funds, either just to save money or because he thought the spending wasn't necessary. That's not true anymore. Once appropriated by Congress, the President by law must spend the money -- if it doesn't cost enough, the President must find a way to keep spending in the appropriated categories to use up the funds.

    So, the "debt ceiling" is a complete anachronism, and arguing about it is ridiculous. It's like a husband setting an autodebit for a bill on a credit card each month which is guaranteed to go over the credit limit, but the wife refuses to call up the credit card company and get them to raise the credit limit. The autodebit already MUST happen by law once Congress appropriates the funds. Refusing to authorize a raise in the debt ceiling would create a situation where the President is legally bound to do two different things (he MUST spend the money, but he's NOT authorized to do so).

    So yeah, while we may not be able to prevent "party politics" around the budget completely, some aspects of the process are legal nonsense.

  • Re:Fucking idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @09:31AM (#45002477) Journal

    There is no middle ground anymore theres the far left and the far right and a giant gulf in the middle with a few real centrists mixed in.

    There is no far left in American politics. Obama is well to the right of most first world politicians, and in American context is somewhere around Reagan or Nixon. The Democrats are a right wing party, and the Republicans are a far right party. The extreme left of American politics, represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizibeth Warren would be centrists in any sane country.

In every hierarchy the cream rises until it sours. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter

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