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Ohio feels effects of government shutdown

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Sometimes it is hard to see how the national government affects the lives of its citizens, especially on a day-to-day basis. But it wasn’t hard to see the effects of the national government shutdown, which has now lasted for nearly a week. The effects ranged from trivial – such as one Ohio middle school canceling a trip to the nation’s capital – to significant.

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of federal employees were furloughed. National parks and memorials were fenced off. Websites for federal agencies were down. There isn’t anarchy and chaos, but the state of the nation will surely deteriorate if Congress fails to approve a budget soon.

In Ohio, as with other states around the nation, those most affected by the government’s shutdown were those employed by the government itself. Last week, 800 pilots, mechanics and administrative staff serving in the Ohio Air and Army National Guard were furloughed, forcing them to postpone drills and any other actions not deemed critical.

“We still have the capability to respond to any domestic situation in Ohio,” said National Guard spokesman James Sims. “We are still maintaining our readiness to support the war fight. This government shutdown and subsequent furloughs have had an impact on our operations.”

At the same time, Social Security workers in Columbus took to the streets to protest and call for government action.

“We’re just middle-class Americans. All we want to do is work and get paid,” said claims representative Patti Santo of the American Federation of Government Employees.

On Capitol Hill, though, there was no end in sight. Feeling the heat from their constituents, politicians sought to place the blame on those sitting across the aisle.

“Remember, Pres Obama signed a bill funding troops … Our veterans, reservists, & National Guard deserve same fairness,” said Republican House Speaker John Boehner on his Twitter account regarding the furlough of National Guard staff.

His tweet was countered by this one from Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge of Cleveland: “The economy is losing $300 million/day and more than 10,500 military personnel in Ohio are on unpaid leave because of the #BoehnerShutdown.”

Boehner, one of Ohio’s own, is stuck in a difficult position. He does not want to upset the more conservative factions within the party but knows that Republicans will suffer if the shutdown is not ended soon. Attempts by the House to pass bills that would reopen monuments and cancer research, among other programs, were blocked by Democrats in the Senate who see these moves as half-measures that would allow Republicans to wriggle off the hot seat while leaving other programs unfunded.

“The speaker has always been clear that a default would be disastrous for our economy,” said Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel. “He’s also been clear that a ‘clean’ debt hike cannot pass the House. That’s why the president and Senate Democrats should drop their ‘no negotiations’ stance, and work with us on a plan to raise the debt limit in a responsible way, with spending cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again and create jobs.”

For the time being, assistance programs within the state of Ohio, which includes free and reduced-price lunches, welfare checks, women and infants nutrition program, and home-delivered meals for seniors will continue, but only for a few more weeks. State officials say they are waiting to hear from the federal government about future funding disruptions.

As the shutdown continues, programs in Ohio and the United States will be forced to halt programs and furlough workers. Right now, only a few are truly feeling the effects, but it won’t be long until the effects are felt more widely across the state and nation.

 

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