American government shutdown is seen by Europeans as a curiosity. Democrats and Republicans didn’t reach an agreement, they will quarrel for a while and everything will work out. Sitting on board of a plane that is about to land in Denver this problem seems more significant. Were the state employees who work at airport control tower paid on time?
Fortunately, the plane landed, everything worked properly, but the U.S. budget freeze is a more serious issue than ever before in history.
People hardly remember the year of 1996, when a similar situation took place. TV stations are racing in numbers of news on how the second day of shutdown affects people’s life. National parks and some museums are closed (unless when a bus full of veterans arrives, then the door is wonderfully open). Generally, everything works fine, but it will be working less and less. It is estimated that this situation costs the United States 300 million dollars a day. A special clock on ABC television shows how long the budget impasse has last and commentators agree that there is no chance for a quick and surgical settlement of the problem.
And here we touch the heart of the problem. In yesterday’s New York Times American columnist Thomas L. Friedman noted that we are dealing with an attack on democracy. The Republican Party – actually its conservative part (Tea Party) – puts the President in a position of a hostage, and after all, the President implements the law that is adopted by the Congress and approved by the Supreme Court. Friedman writes that it is the greatest assault on democracy since the McCarthy’s.
Barack Obama doesn´t waste time as well. His reform of health system (compulsory insurances) came into an effect and people have already been registering. On the first day even 3 million of them. A lot. More than computer systems can handle but ‘the machine started’. Obama wants to win this clash by mobilizing public opinion against Republicans. Each day of crises will cost them loss of support, but in the meantime a lot is going to happen.