November 01, 2014 11:47 UTC

In the News

US Government Shutdown: Week One

Tourists walk by a sign announcing that the Statue of Liberty is closed due to a US government shutdown in New York, October 1, 2013.
Tourists walk by a sign announcing that the Statue of Liberty is closed due to a US government shutdown in New York, October 1, 2013.

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From VOA Learning English, this is In the News.
                                                                          
This week, a political dispute in Washington led to a partial shutdown of the United States government for the first time in almost 20 years. Agencies sent home more than 800,000 workers -- about one-third of the federal work force.
                              
The new budget year began Tuesday, October 1. But Republicans in Congress blocked even short-term spending for many government operations. They demanded that Democrats change the Affordable Care Act, the new health care law often called Obamacare. The Democrats refused.
                                                                           
The shutdown did not stop Tuesday’s launch of online marketplaces, called exchanges, at the center of the law. The federal government and states started websites for millions of uninsured Americans to buy health plans or pay a tax penalty.
                             
Opponents of Obamacare say it will force people and small businesses to buy insurance policies against their will.
 
At the heart of the dispute is a clash between the two major political parties over the role of the central government in American life.

The political fighting between Democrats and Republicans began to intensify during the 1990s. That followed the election of Democrat Bill Clinton as president. Differences over spending and the role of government led to two government shutdowns.
 
The disputed presidential election of 2000 brought Republican George W. Bush to office. University of Virginia expert Larry Sabato says the political battles only deepened during his second term.
 
“There is no question that the polarization increased first with the Bush presidency, because of the Iraq war and his handling of Hurricane Katrina. Then it accelerated once President Obama was elected.”
The divide grew wider when President Barack Obama pushed his health care reform law through Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote. That in turn helped to fuel the rise of Tea Party groups around the country. The Tea Party is a conservative voting group within the Republican Party.
                                                                   
Republicans have made several attempts to either defund the Affordable Care Act or delay it. The law is one of the most important acts of Barack Obama’s presidency.
 
Peter Brown of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut studies public opinion.
 
“Republicans like smaller government and lower government spending and therefore are more opposed to Obamacare. Democrats tend to be more supportive in general of government solutions to problems, and they see Obamacare as the right thing to do to help on the health care issue.”
                                     
Currently, Republicans control the House of Representatives; Democrats hold the Senate and the White House.
A group of conservative Republicans in the House have been leading the opposition to the health care law. Many of them now depend on strong support from Tea Party activists to get elected. Larry Sabato says many of them are willing, at least for now, to accept the political blame for forcing the government to shut down.
 
“They will pay a bigger price, but they seem willing to pay it in part because most of their members are in completely safe [congressional] districts. The only thing they have to worry about is a challenge from the right in the Republican primary. So they do not want to let anybody get to their right.”
 
For the moment, Larry Sabato sees no quick end to the shutdown.
 
“They are so deeply polarized by party and by institution that it is difficult to see, if people stick to the principles they have articulated, how this is going to be resolved.  It could go on and on.  And of course it will do tremendous damage, not just to our economy but to our image around the world.”
                                            
Political observer Charlie Cook says some of the Republican opposition is also driven by deep feelings against President Obama.

“There are a lot of Republicans where if President Obama said ‘up,’ they would say ‘down.’ 
                                     
The last politically driven government shutdown began in December of 1995. It lasted three weeks.
 
And right now there is another issue. Congress will soon have to raise the borrowing limit or risk the United States not being able to make all of its loan payments. Congress must renew the government's power to borrow money by October 17 or risk a first-ever federal default.
              
And that's In the News from VOA Learning English. I’m Avi Arditti.
___

Contributing: Jim Malone
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by: Manuel Sanchez from: Jacksonville, fl
10/11/2013 1:31 PM
I just want to thank to Mr Avi Arditti and Jim Malone. Excellent.


by: TK from: South East Asia
10/10/2013 6:01 PM
The ugly side of American Democracy at its best when self interest is placed before the people. It is beyond my understanding how on earth USA cannot afford to give universal health care to its people when majority of its partners are doing without any problem. It's time for America to learn something from Canada, UK, French, Germany and others.


by: Nguyet nguyen from: Ha Noi, Viet Nam
10/09/2013 3:49 PM
Sad! Don't let the Chinese win you!


by: Vanlina Doan from: HCMC, Vietnam
10/09/2013 8:21 AM
So surprising with this news. I can't believe that once day US government shut down. It not only affects inside US but also all over the world. It is the most important time that the world need US but US itself make trouble. I really hope the dispute inside US government will be resolved soon to bring a new world for everyone. We need you, US.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
10/09/2013 7:50 AM
Repubricans are reported to have lead into government shutdown calling for one year delay of Obama care operation. What is the merit for them to have Obama care one year delay, not the abolition of the care?


by: TK from: South East Asia
10/06/2013 8:30 PM
Everything essential to the lives of the people such as: water, electricity, food and health care should be under the management of the government to ensure that the right to life as stated in the declaration of American independence prevail to further promote the other right to liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Countries like Cuba, England, French, Germany and America neighbors Canada have universal health Care package to theirs citizens. Those health care package has more to offer than Obamacare package.

This crisis to me is a show down of whether America as a country can live with the notion of people before profit.

My ESL teacher told me the greatest Canadian of at all time in Canada is Tommy Douglas, the man who faced zillions of enemy in his leadership for Canadian Healthcare.

Obamacare is similar to what Canada had faced a half-century ago. America is so behind when it come to social benefit program like: HealthCare, Parental Benefit and Education.

Mr.President Obama, Please do not give up your ObamaCare and do not give in to those Republican. I am with you in this since it is more important than your presidency. Yes, We can.


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
10/06/2013 4:06 PM
It is highly pathetic that such a higly cultured country as the U.S is in a dead lock on the issue of a health policy! The whole world seems to be wonder struck at the stand still of the U.S economy. Some of us are afraid how the standstill is going to affect our own economy. Some say a price hike is likely, some say it won't affect us any way. I wish that it could be over soon or else it will jerpodize world economy at large. My just two cents is that the policy must be given only to the needy. So compulsion should be there. Also, opposing everything blindly will do more harm than good. Thank you.


by: Zatouichi from: Japan
10/06/2013 11:22 AM
Recently New program of As it is has not been released.
Insted old ones are used.
That is because of US Government Shutdown?


by: Chief Denunciator from: Germany
10/06/2013 9:48 AM
We in Germany have Obamacare since Otto von Bismarck, Prime Minister of Prussia.
Germany had a tradition of welfare programs in Prussia and Saxony that began as early as the 1840s. In the 1880s his social insurance programs were the first in the world and became the model for other countries and the basis of the modern welfare state.


by: Tauseef from: Lahore
10/05/2013 6:44 PM
A slightly harder article to appreciate for people who are not interested in US politics. But I can see that President Obama has started a program about Healthcare that requires a lot of US govt involvement in terms of providing money for it. The Republicans, the party opposing President Obama's party, is against the Program.

Hence, the conflict between the two parties, that need to co-operate to run the govt, has caused the American govt to shut down in certain areas.

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