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Federal government is closed

Kevin Chill Heard | 10/1/2013, 7:04 p.m.
Congress representatives opposed to the Affordable Healthcare Act successfully shut down the government.

By KEVIN CHILL HEARD

@houseofchill

Managing Editor

Due to what is being deemed an apparent planned strategy by the Republican-led House, the United States of America has been forced into a partial government shutdown. Not since the conclusion of 1995 has our country seen such a federal standstill.

At the crux of this stoppage – placing 800,000 government employees on mandatory unpaid leave – are the GOP’s relentless attempts to dismantle President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. On the subject of using the health care law to enact a federal shutdown, President Obama suggested that Congress doesn’t get to “extract a ransom” for doing its job.

Speaking from the White House on Monday, the President was quick to assure those ready to participate in the new law, even though the government was on the precipice of the shutdown, that the rolling out of the new law will not be effected.

“The Affordable Care Act is moving forward,” said President Obama. “That funding is already in place. You can't shut it down. This is a law that passed both houses of Congress, a law that bears my signature, a law that the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional, a law that voters chose not to repeal last November,” referring to his reelection as a vote of approval for “Obamacare.”

In addition to the voluminous amount of federal employees being affected, the shutdown will also compromise all national parks such as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone Park, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, national museums like the Smithsonian and federal home loans and small business loans. And what some may see as a lucky, though temporary windfall, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would suffer a considerable cut back. No IRS audits will be administered during a shutdown, but the IRS would not have staff on hand to assist with tax questions.

Showing disappointment at this method of politics, the President stated, “Keeping the government open is not a concession to me, it’s a basic responsibility.”

Then Obama took to the public podium again on Tuesday afternoon, this time from the White House Rose Garden, accompanied by Americans that he said will be helped by the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. Obama chastised what he referred to as “one faction of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government.” A faction, he pointed out, that was responsible for closing down a large part of the federal government “because they didn’t like one law.”

Republicans who say that the Democrats are to blame insist that Dems in the Senate refused to consider a measure the House passed on Sunday connecting a “stopgap” funding of the federal government to delay (one year) the President’s health-care law. GOP leaders accused the opposing party of protecting Obamacare, at the cost of maintaining government funding.

Statewide, about 52,000 federal employees in Ohio will be furloughed (given unpaid leave). In Cleveland, the NASA Glenn Research Center in Brook Park will be impacted, as nearly 2,000 people’s paychecks will come to a screeching halt, as well as many of Cleveland’s Head Start locations. Due to the gag order placed on employees’ ability to speak with the media, an IRS worker here locally provided the Call & Post with a statement, anonymously of course. In his statement he expressed his feelings of a lack of concern on the government’s part saying, “this makes you feel as if your career is unimportant, how you can be gotten rid of just like that [snaps finger]. With no income, how are we going to survive? And the worst part is that there are so many unanswered questions like, how long will this last? Do I need to look for a new job? Can we collect unemployment for the time we’re off? You would think they would have someone available for us to talk to, to provide some of these answers.”

With a call out to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the Call and Post was assured that, for now, the workers at the Cleveland office will be unaffected by the shutdown. DFAS oversees payments to Department of Defense service members, employees, vendors and contractors. DFAS also provides the Department of Defense decision makers with business intelligence, finance and accounting information.

Other government employees classified as “essential” will also be unaffected by the shutdown, including food inspectors, Border Patrol, and air traffic controllers. All federal post offices are self-funded and will continue to operate as normal.

But, if you are looking to tour national mainstays like the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument during this shutdown, sorry, you are out of luck.