If you failed to do your job and 800,000 people were subsequently furloughed without pay, you would be fired and possibly criminally prosecuted. However for the 112th United States Congress, this is a normal Tuesday. Democrats and Republicans failed to come to an agreement last night to fund the government and allowed it to shut down. Meetings between Senate Democrats and House Republicans over the terms of a short-term spending bill went south late Monday with funding of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) being the primary source of discord. A group of vocal conservative Republicans in the House attempted to pass a series of bills that would delay the start of the ACA or defund it all together. Senate Democrats expectedly rejected those provisions. While both sides are being negligent and asinine, polls show Republicans are going to take the greater political hit as a result of today’s shutdown.
The order came just before midnight to suspend non-essential government activities. Departments that remain open include police, defense, air traffic control, and the postal service. While a government shutdown is never a good thing, the more pressing debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling enabling the U.S. to pay its bills is a few short weeks away. The consequences of not raising the debt ceiling are so catastrophic it would be almost unthinkable not to raise it, however the level of futility in congress is also unthinkable so I’m uneasy.
Financial markets are largely unmoved this morning as the U.S. government shutdown begins.
For a full description of what to expect during the government shutdown, including what offices and services will be closed and those that will continue to function, follow this link.