The non-essential services provided by the US government have grinded to a halt as there is disagreement in Congress about the current budget. This not only weakens the country financially but also shows the inefficiency US congress has to deliberate and compromise in situations where ideologies clash. The main cause of the budget not being passed is Obama’s new health care reform which has been abbreviated to ‘Obamacare’. The official name of this reform is Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act. The act is designed to give those Americans who are not covered by private health insurance coverage. By doing so, the government plans to prevent malpractices of various insurance companies. The plan is also meant to provide coverage that could not be provided with privately bought health insurance. These include plans to provide yearly check-ups and maternity care. People who are part of Medicaid (poor and disabled) have added benefits from this law. Anyone earning less than 31,000$ per year receives free Medicaid. However, people who do not qualify for Medicare (senior citizens) and Medicaid, and don’t have private insurance have to pay for Obamacare. This is the part of the reform which had to be passed through the 2013-2014 financial year budget. Even then, 20 million people will not be covered as the law exempts those who are incarcerated, who belong to certain religious groups, illegal immigrants and those who are willing to pay the penalty for not subscribing. Why are the Republicans against Obamacare? The opposition has given a number of reasons as to why they are against this new Law. Firstly, they believe that the passing of the bill will increase health care spending for the government. This will mainly be caused by the coverage provided for the poorest 18 %. Furthermore, they believe that it is not right for the government to force people to subscribe to something that they may not particularly want. However, supporters of Obamacare state that the Republicans are opposed to it because they fear that it may actually work. The people who benefit the most from Obamacare belong to red states such as Texas. As a result, the opposition has shown serious outrage towards the budget and has prevented it from passing through the Senate. Since the deadline for passing the budget was missed, the government has been put through a partial shutdown as per the American constitution. This has resulted in various non essential services being closed. These include museums and national parks. An estimated 700,000 people will face unpaid leave if a compromise is not met on the budget. Senior officers of American spy agencies have shown some fear due to this shutdown. About 70% of intelligence workers will lose their jobs. This will cause, they believe, a grave danger to American national security. President Obama can decide on a ‘stopgap’ budget to prevent such a shutdown from taking place. This will be a one-week spending bill which will allow the non-essential services to function. However, he refused to go with this proposal when he stated that the ‘stopgap’ budget will only delay the inevitable fighting. This shutdown not only affects the US but also the international community as a whole. As a result of globalisation, economic problems faced by the US has had the tendency to cause trouble elsewhere as well. A lot of countries have shown fear as a result of the shutdown.
My take: I am disgusted to see how the US congress has dealt with the budget. Just because of an ideological standpoint, congressmen seem to be ready to allow a large part of their population to be rendered jobless. I don’t believe that the Republican Party has provided any concrete reasons to be fuming about the health care reforms. If they feel that the scheme will cost too much, they should provide with effective measures to reduce such costs. Asking for a further delay on this issue, however, is simply a means to prevent a solution. They already had a year to provide effective alternatives to the so called- ‘high cost measures’ but decided not to provide them.