Valdosta Daily Times

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What We Think

October 2, 2013

Sorry, America is closed

VALDOSTA — Citizens accessing the official White House website were greeted Tuesday with the following message:

“Due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, the information on this web site may not be up to date. Some submissions may not be processed, and we may not be able to respond to your inquiries.”

The message on usa.gov, the official U.S. government website, stated the issue much more succinctly: “Due to a lapse in funding, the U.S. federal government has shut down.”

Frightening when your country has to close due to a stalemate in Congress over the health-care law. A virtual staring contest with no one blinking.

On one side, conservative Republicans in the House who want postponements on the Affordable Care Act that went into effect Oct. 1. On the opposite side is a Democratic Senate that won’t pass the budget bill with the House restrictions attached. And in the middle are the hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed indefinitely, the visitors at now-closed national parks and monuments, veterans services, federal contracts, applications for federal services — and the American citizen.

The Affordable Care Act passed in May 2010. The Supreme Court upheld it as law in June 2012. The time to fight this battle is long past.

The way to amend or change the law is through legislation, not by holding the entire country hostage while those elected to govern choose to play political games.

The last time the federal government closed was nearly 20 years ago when President Bill Clinton vetoed the budget. At least then, Congress actually passed one.

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