As the federal government shutdown continues into its second week, we’re learning more about the real consequences of the refusal of our elected officials to do one simple task—their job.
As always, the nation’s poor are among those being affected most. Details have emerged in the past few days of programs like Head Start, which offers important education and nutritional services to low-income families, being threatened with closing its doors due to lack of funding. Thankfully, a wealthy couple pledged $10 million this week to keep centers open around the country.
Another report noted the LIHEAP program, which many families in Eastern Kentucky may be familiar with, especially when they need help paying bills during the winters months, may be delayed because of the shutdown.
Even the WIC program is under threat, all because some hardliners in Congress don’t like the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a law they claim nobody wants.
Here in Kentucky, a solidly red state during the last presidential election, Gov. Steve Beshear’s office claimed on Monday the state’s health benefit exchange, opened as part of the Obamacare roll out, attracted nearly 175,000 people with 155,000 prescreenings and 22,000 beginning an application to sign up for health insurance in the first week. And that’s despite a disastrous first day in which people ran into a multitude of error messages while navigating the state’s health exchange website.
Some have said this was something worth a federal government shutdown, because no one wants it. Talking heads on the 24-hour news channels and even some members of Congresss have have said the shutdown isn’t that big of a deal. Meanwhile, approximately 800,000 federal employees remain on furlough this week and the shutdown is costing an estimated $300 million a day, according to the market research firm IHS.
Perhaps the shutdown isn’t a big deal to some, but ask the young mother who depends on services through WIC, knowing those services are under threat. Ask an elderly couple who will depend on LIHEAP payments for their heating bills this winter. Ask a “non-essential” federal employee juggling a mortgage, raising a family, and paying the bills.
We feel confident in saying one thing—and we don’t think we’ll need it poll tested—the majority of the American people do not want a shutdown, partial or otherwise, and didn’t want one in the first place.
It’s time this shutdown comes to an end, for the government to reopen, and then for our elected leaders on both sides of the aisle to stop pouting and begin governing like adults.
— The Hazard Herald