Oct. 8, 2013 — On Monday, Oct. 1, the federal government shut down when the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Democrat-led Senate could not agree on a budget.
Funding for the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — is the central issue in this partisan battle with House Republicans on one side and Senate Democrats on the other. Both parties seek to place the blame for the shutdown on the other — it’s the divisive and partisan brand of politics Americans have been forced to endure from the federal (and state) government for years.
It’s not like we didn’t see this coming, but it doesn’t make it any less ridiculous. If employees in the private sector acted like this they would be strongly reprimanded — more likely fired.
But this is politics — politics at its worst. And the financial repercussions could affect us all.
An extended shutdown could have a huge impact in Lassen and Plumas counties. A number of federal workers will not be earning a paycheck while the government is shut down. And local residents will not be able to access the services these federal employees provide to the public every day.
Employees at a number of federal offices in Susanville — the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, the Social Security Administration and nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park — have been sent home.
Most of the staff on the Plumas National Forest has been furloughed. The forest’s ever-popular Fall Fest, scheduled for Oct. 5, was cancelled.
If the length of the shutdown increases from days to weeks to months, the loss of income to these federal worker families could become a hardship that will reduce the income of local merchants and eventually affect each and every one of us.
That’s especially bad news for our local economy here in Lassen County.
If our elected representatives and the president felt the same pain in their pocketbooks we are likely to feel, a compromise would have been crafted and the federal government’s doors would have remained open.
A handful of politicians are willing to share in the pain by giving their paychecks to charity during this shutdown.
Others have simply said they are not “taking” their pay while the government’s business is closed. But that appears to be a shallow gesture. There is little doubt those politicians’ “deferred” paychecks will get cashed as soon as the shutdown is over.
Our First District Congressman, Doug LaMalfa, said his Washington and district offices would remain open during the shutdown. We appreciate and acknowledge LaMalfa’s dedication and service to his constituents despite the actions — or should we say lack of actions — taken by Congress.
Our local economy and our local residents depend upon these federal workers, and this shutdown of the federal government hits too close to home.
We expect LaMalfa and our two representatives in the Senate — Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein — to work to the best of their abilities to resolve this impasse and put our local federal employees back to work as soon as possible.
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