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Government Shutdown Threatens Foreign Aid

Government Shutdown Brinksmanship Foreign Aid Cuts
Even to those who display the most passive attention to the news, it is clear that politics in Washington D.C. has reached a fever pitch. Without any doubt, the implications of what is being discussed are, in fact, no hyperbole. Beholden to special interests, factions within the Republican Party have resolved to agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government – absent defunding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Short of passing the continued resolution, a government shutdown has taken effect. Yet, while the detractors of the ACA site economic concerns over the law, it is in our interests to consider the victims of even a short-term government shutdown.

While The Borgen Project is a non-partisan group, the implications of a government shutdown are serious and will have great effect on foreign aid and all government programs moving forward.

To put this argument into perspective, we should take an objective stance. By turning our attention towards the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), we can keep our feet rooted in the ground rather than in the clouds of ideological waffling. In their estimation, the CBO found the ACA would grant health coverage to 32 million people and raise government spending by almost one trillion dollars. While the specter of raising spending tickles the ire of republican ideologues, the CBO also found that revenues and savings would exceed this amount, effectively reducing the deficit over time.

With the non-partisan CBO stating the ACA would, in fact, benefit our economy, we must direct our attention to the victims of a government shutdown.

First and foremost, hundreds and thousands of government employees will effectively lose their jobs for the period of the shutdown. From many Pentagon employees, to park rangers, pockets will be squeezed tightly as they will not be receiving income for the period of the shutdown. Despite this, members of Congress will continue to be paid. The only bright side seems to have been President Obama’s decision to sign a bill in the midnight hour that would allow members of the military or any civilians working for the Pentagon who provide “direct support to the military” to be paid during the shutdown.

Secondly, the health of our economy is on the line. Looking back to August, 2011, our economy was dealt a blow when, for the first time in history, a credit rating agency, Standard and Poor, downgraded our rating from AAA to AA+. Dealing with confidence in markets, the mere fact that we were having the discussion we are having now was enough to reduce confidence in our economy. An actual government shutdown will have far wider and much deeper consequences.

While this is strictly political at the moment, the economic consequences will be difficult to assess until we are in the muck of it. Yet, as Obama addressed a crowd in Maryland early on Thursday, he sited the fact that even a short government shutdown will affect worse economic consequences than the proclaimed economic consequences of the ACA.

This form of brinkmanship will carry with it ramifications in all areas. If we cannot afford a cost-effective health care law in our own land, the fate of allotments for foreign aid will be the next bit of meat on the chopping block. While we call our representatives to advocate for the poor, let them know that political brinkmanship will only hurt humanity.

– Thomas van der List

Sources: MIT, NPR, ABC News, Politico
Photo: CNN Money