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Shutdown’s ripple effect hitting us all


Is this any way to run a country?

How much longer will Americans tolerate the frustration, uncertainty and pain created for no reason other than political gamesmanship?

The stakes certainly are too high for northeast Indiana, where economic recovery already has been too long in arriving.

The region’s congressional representatives violate the public’s trust with behavior unbecoming public servants.

The Affordable Care Act is not a bargaining chip; it is settled law, approved by Congress and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Regardless of some people’s objections to the law, they should not be permitted to disrupt the vital work of the federal government with a government shutdown or endanger the nation’s economic well-being with another round of debt-ceiling brinksmanship.

Obamacare opponents and the elected officials kowtowing to their demands cavalierly dismiss the effects of their forced shutdown as no big deal.

It is a big deal.

Consider the 800,000-plus federal employees furloughed and the important services they provide that have been lost or delayed.

Think of the veterans – an estimated 55,000 of them in Indiana’s 3rd congressional district – whose disability payments, education assistance and home-loan guarantees were placed at risk by the shutdown.

Consider the small business owners whose loan guarantees were stalled when the Small Business Association stopped issuing all loans but those related to national disasters.

Think of the 216 furloughed civilian technicians with the 122nd Fighter Wing at Fort Wayne’s Air National Guard Base. Consider the indirect effect on the local economy as two-thirds of the base’s full-time personnel go without pay. Consider Grissom Air Force Base near Peru, where about 600 full-time civilian employees and reservists who work at the base 60 miles north of Indianapolis were furloughed, leaving about 25 air traffic controllers and 50 base security staff on duty.

Consider the cancer victims, including children, whose hope for recovery through a clinical trial was threatened when the National Institutes of Health furloughed three-quarters of its staff.

Think about 3,200 Head Start students whose classrooms were shuttered last week. Think of their low-income parents, scrambling to find safe and affordable child care.

Consider the military members worried about a disruption in the G.I. Bill benefits that cover college tuition costs. Consider flood victims in Colorado, where the shutdown of Rocky Mountain National Park exacerbated financial hardship created by the weather disaster.

Consider the safety of employees at U.S. embassies, their safety net compromised when seven out of 10 civilian intelligence agency workers were furloughed.

Or, how about the safety of your own food, given that USDA Food Safety Inspection Service halted everything but its meat production oversight on Tuesday?

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said efforts to delay Obamacare “at the end of the day … are worthwhile,” while Congressman Marlin Stutzman insisted “we (Republicans) have to get something out of this.”

The value of continual political posturing might be apparent to them; it’s not to 6.5 million Hoosiers and their fellow Americans – each of whom depend on government services to varying degrees.