Between 800,000 and a million public servants face furlough
After the House of Representatives refused to hold talks on extending a line of financing to the White House on Monday and sent the federal government into a shutdown of all non-essential services, a broad swathe of Americans expressed their displeasure with the functioning of the U.S. Congress.
Speaking to The Hindu Marc (46), who works for a non-profit organisation, described Republican Party opposition to “Obamacare” — described as the core issue that led to the shutdown — as “rightwing lunacy”.
He underscored the irony that the landmark healthcare reform that Mr. Obama championed successfully in 2010, and which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, was pioneered by the Republican Party, and the final form of the policy that Congress signed off on was a compromise by the Democrats.
After negotiations failed to lead to a resolution that both parties in Congress could agree on, the shutdown kicked in after midnight on Monday. It will result in the furlough of a large number of government workers, including civilian employees serving the military.
Anger grew in the nation’s capital, especially after some reporters on Capitol Hill tweeted that they believed the Congressmen allegedly working on hammering out a deal to avoid the shutdown had been drinking alcohol. One journalist said she could “smell the booze wafting from members as they walk off the floor.”
National parks, museums, zoos, and housing loan application authorities faced full or partial closure, and many expressed their dissatisfaction. Ashish Sen, a DC-based journalist said that while he was not immediately affected as he was not in a government job, “the inconvenience will become more apparent as the shutdown lingers”. Mr. Sen added that he believed the shutdown to be a direct consequence of the Republican Party’s “refusal to accept the outcome of the last election,” and the fact that the conservative Tea Party wing of the GOP was elected to office on the promise that it would obstruct Obamacare.
'Stupid and petty'
It would appear that ordinary Washingtonians who support the Republican Party also do not back their role in creating this logjam. Lisa (24) described the House Republicans’ move as “stupid and petty”, adding, “We lost the  election so shouldn’t block the winning party. This is going to hurt them in [the mid-term elections of] 2014.
With disenchantment with the government setting in from Day One of the shutdown, more frustration is in store as important services are curtailed, including passport applications, the functioning of the critical Centres for Disease Control, owing to the furlough of somewhere between 800,000 and a million public sector employees.
Marc summed up the public’s cynicism surrounding the cause of the shutdown succinctly. “I think the Republicans are scared that when Obamacare goes into force on October 1, people will actually like the policy.”
A Quinnipiac poll taken between September 23 and 29 showed that American voters opposed by 72 per cent to 22 per cent Congress shutting down of the federal government in a bid to stop Obamacare.