World Bulletin/News Desk
After weeks of wrangling between the US House and Senate failed to produce a federal budget, many government offices were shuttered Tuesday as eight hundred thousand US government employees stayed home instead of reporting for work.
"[Government employees] are good hard-working Americans. They are the backbone of the American society, and they’re the types of people that politicians often say they’re trying to protect. The shutdown is doing the opposite of that. It’s punishing these people,” said John Hudak, a fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington.
And indeed, many Americans keenly feel the immediate impacts of the shutdown.
Jesse Oakley, an employee of the Fish and Wildlife Service within the Department of the Interior, said that the shutdown has increased his anxiety over the bills that will quickly pile up.
"For me personally, as a single person on a [yearly contract], you already have the stress of getting your contract renewed. But in addition to that now, living in DC, which is one of the most expensive places on Earth, we have to go without a paycheck, and a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck," said Mr Oakley.
He added: "I couldn’t sleep last night. I was thinking of my own personal finances. This really hits home for a lot of people."
For Mr Oakley, as with many others that have seen their economic futures become progressively unclear, the longer that this shutdown goes on, the more dramatic its effects will be.
And no end to the government shutdown is in sight.
"It’s hard to guess how long this is going to go on, because we’re not dealing with rational actors in the Congress, so what I can say is, this is going to go on as long as American citizens remain quiet. As soon as American citizens start to get angry about this, and start to call their members of the Congress and tell them they’re fed up, and tell them that they’re angry, and tell them that they don’t think they should be in office anymore, that’s when you start to move the necessary number of votes to get a funding bill, and to get the government to re-open," said Mr Hudak.
For his part, Mr Oakley already had sharp words for America’s legislators.
"They’re elected to represent their constituency. This country was built on compromise. For them to attach a rider provision on an issue that’s not even central to keeping the actual government running is just ridiculous," he said.
Government offices shuttered
Across Washington, signs were posted at government offices and national parks telling potential visitors that they were, indeed, closed.
At the Smithsonian Institute, the largest grouping of research centers and museums in the world, its 19 museums, zoo and research centers went unopened, with signs reading that their various buildings were closed. Messages were also displayed across the Smithsonian website informing would-be visitors that "all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed."
This past week saw approximately 400,000 visitors show up to the Smithsonian’s exhibits. According to Becky Haberacker, a public affairs official with the museum group, it would be visitors that would be impacted by the closure.
"The impact of this is much more towards our visitors. Right now we know that there are some folks in DC who are here on vacation, and are here to visit. Unfortunately they won’t be able to come into the building. We have been preparing for a shutdown, since we knew that it was a possibility. We have a plan in place," said Ms Haberacker.
Smithsonian Chief Spokesperson Linda St. Thomas said that while the Smithsonian would be losing revenue from its many gift shops, IMAX movie theaters and cafeterias, "the significant portion [of revenue] is the 65 percent of funding that comes from the federal government," which is, for the time being, suspended.
Even at that, Smithsonian employees are unsure of whether or not they will be paid retroactively for the time the government will be closed.
According to Ms St. Thomas, "We don’t know whether people will be paid for the days they were furloughed. That will be a decision the US Congress makes. […] I can’t predict what the Congress will decide or how many days the furlough will last."
Last Mod: 01 Ekim 2013, 23:07