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Government Shutdown: What Will It Accomplish?

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When the clock struck midnight and the 2013 fiscal year came to a close Monday, something was missing – a budget. Republicans followed through on their threats to shut down the government if Democrats would not bend to their demands that challenged Pres. Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

However, this is not the first time the government has been forced into a shutdown following partisan disagreement over the next fiscal year’s budget. The most recent time this happened was nearly 17 years ago, when Bill Clinton was president. Newt Gingrich was the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

It was a similar set of circumstances. Republicans had promised to cut spending, while Clinton pushed for his own objectives: Medicare, education and the environment.

First in 1995, and again in 1996, the government was stalled – with non-essential government workers on furlough and many “non-essential” services suspended – for a total of 28 days.

“He can run the parts of the government that are left, or he can run no government,” Gingrich told Time magazine reporters six months before the first shutdown.

Gingrich sounds a lot like current House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who said on Tuesday that Democrats slammed the door on regaining government control.

While the idea of the shutdown is the same, the two parties now have split Congressional control, and it’s harder to tell when the shutdown will be absolved and how the government shutdown will affect citizens. 

“You may see a partial shutdown for several days,” Blackburn, R-Tenn., told Fox News. “People are going to realize they can live with a lot less government.”

Although some Republicans like Blackburn said their actions have left the nation better off, a number of government institutions will affect some Americans significantly.

Government departments like Health and Human Services have even issued memos explaining exactly how the changes will affect citizens, who might be surprised to find out that things like food inspections and flu immunizations – not to mention veterans’ benefits and millions of dollars in tourism profits nationwide, among other things – won’t be possible until the shutdown ends.

In spite of the shutdown, Obama addressed the nation Tuesday, urging them to find common ground and explaining that the healthcare market place is officially open for business regardless of their political plays due to previous funding that wasn’t affected by the budget bill’s non-approval.

Back in 1995, the Republicans ultimately gave up and cut a deal with Clinton that, according to this Washington Post article, “was not much different than what they could have gotten before the shutdown.”

The nation was left more than a billion dollars poorer than when the shutdown began.

As we ease into the second day of the government shutdown, my case in point: What will this shutdown actually accomplish?

-AJG

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