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.
Plumas County Supervisor Jon Kennedy summed up the situation pretty well during the board’s Tuesday, Oct. 1, meeting when he said, “These knuckleheads really have no clue.”
But this is politics — politics at its worst. And the financial repercussions could affect all of us.
An extended shutdown could have a huge impact in Plumas and Lassen 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.
Most of the staff on the Plumas National Forest has been furloughed. The PNF’s popular Fall Fest, scheduled for Oct. 5, was cancelled.
Workers 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.
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 for our local economy here in Plumas 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 1st 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 ability to resolve this impasse and put our local federal employees back to work as soon as possible.