After 16 days of political brinkmanship, an 11th-hour bill was agreed upon by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama, ending the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling.
Although a default on the $17 trillion spending limit would have been detrimental to the U.S. gold-standard credit rating, the economy did not escape the shutdown unharmed.
“There was no economic rationale for all of this. Over the past four years, our economy has been growing, our businesses have been creating jobs, and our deficits have been cut in half,” said Obama in a press conference on Oct. 17. “We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the American economy – but nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.”
According to Standard and Poor, $24 billion were lost during the government crisis, which means that instead of growing three percent this quarter, the U.S. will only grow by 2.4 percent. This means fewer jobs for families that are already struggling to recover from the recession.
“There are no winners here. These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy,” said Obama. “We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.”
Not only did the shutdown affect the economy at home, but it may also have lasting effects on foreign perceptions of the U.S. government and its reliability as a leading force in the world.
“Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we’re strong,” said Obama. “But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in our world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks. It’s encouraged our enemies. It’s emboldened our competitors. And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.”
The shutdown, which initially began due to GOP Republican objections to funding Obamacare, may only be temporarily delayed. The spending bill only funds the government until Jan. 15 of next year, and the debt ceiling must be revisited by Feb. 7.
Although some Republicans, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, have declared that there will not be another shutdown come January, there are others that still have not ruled out the possibility.
“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on ABC’s “This Week.” “What I intend to do is continue standing with the American people to work to stop Obamacare, because it isn’t working, it’s costing people’s jobs, and it’s taking away their health care.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, requires that all Americans have health insurance.
Opponents of the bill believe that it will hurt employers and that it is an overstep on the government’s part.
Some also believe that the medical device tax included in the bill will increase the amount of jobs sent overseas.
Proponents, however, say that the law will broaden access to health care and help to lower the increasing costs of coverage since the law mandates that anyone with a pre-existing condition cannot be denied insurance.
Proponents also say that it will help keep those who do have insurance from paying for those who go to emergency rooms without coverage.
However, because the bill is funded by new taxes and fees, the shutdown itself did nothing to stop Obamacare from going forward.
Whether the U.S. economy will be able to recover from this debacle is yet to be seen, and continued political brinkmanship could easily bring tensions to a head in just a few short months.
Regardless, the nation must focus on moving forward and finding ways to avoid a similar catastrophe in the future.
“To all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change,” said Obama. “Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people – and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust. Our system of self-government doesn’t function without it.”