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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Resist complacency; raise the debt ceiling

Thursday, October 10, 2013 | 6:25 p.m. CDT

How have you been affected by the government shutdown, now in its second week?

Perhaps it is more correct to say partial government shutdown, because much of the population appears largely unaffected.

Furloughed federal workers, visitors to national parks and viewers of the 24-hour “panda cam” at a national zoo have experienced disruptions.

But constituencies with significant clout in Washington, D.C., have voiced little objections.

Why?

Because government largely has shielded them from distress.

For example:

  • Senior citizens and their organization, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) have raised few complaints, but Social Security checks continue being sent.
  • The medical community and its group, the American Medical Association (AMA) have expressed little concern, but Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements continue.
  • Travelers on both business and leisure excursions remain silent, but federal air traffic controllers have not been furloughed, disrupting or diminishing flights.

From a political perspective, government could be applauded for lessening the overall scope and force of the shutdown.

From a partisan perspective, however, Democrats have reason to believe their leaders missed an opportunity. By cushioning the blow of the shutdown, they appear to have validated conservative arguments that government is bloated and in need of reforms. For example, is “panda cam” an essential government service?

It isn’t, but a vote looms later this month on an essential government need — raising the debt ceiling.

Our country may have run up a huge debt, but it has never jeopardized “the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.”

However, now that our nation has weathered sequester and a partial government shutdown, there may be a temptation to believe failure to raise the debt ceiling is no big deal.

That temptation must be resisted.

Raising the debt ceiling is a big deal and a necessary one. Failure to do so would create economic uncertainty and invite catastrophe.

 Copyright Jefferson City News-Tribune. Reprinted with permission.


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