Back in Business

Back in Business

by Nicole Halseth

US government employees are flocking back to work in the hundreds of thousands, after President Barack Obama signed a law to end the 16-day government shutdown and extend the US debt limit.

This deal came just in the nick of time, mere hours before the US was set to default on its debt and run out of money to pay its extensive bills. According to an article on the BBC World News website, Obama said that “there are no winners” emerging from the situation, but that the US would be able to “bounce back” nonetheless.

This measure follows 16 days of government shutdown after Congress could not agree on a budget. Under this measure, which was approved in Washington, the government is funded until 15 January 2014, and the US Treasury’s borrowing authority has been extended to 7 February. This buys the US some time to hopefully resolve some of their outstanding issues.

The deal does not, however, resolve the initial issue that so fiercely divided the two political parties in government (the Republicans and the Democrats). A distinct faction of the Republicans initiated the budgetary disagreement, and consequent shutdown, as a way to pressure the government into stalling Obama’s healthcare reform (aka ‘Obamacare’). Despite their objections, this healthcare reform went forward. Instead, according to an article on the BBC website, this deal “establishes a cross-party committee of legislators tasked with crafting a long-term budget deal and reporting back to Congress by mid-December.”

In an article on the BBC World News website, “Mr. Obama thanked congressional leaders for their help ending the government shutdown and raising the debt limit, but said both had ‘inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.’” Additionally, President Obama goes on to say that “the American people are completely fed up with Washington,” and “how business is done in this town has to change.” He stated that the focus of politicians should be on the economy and creating responsible budgets.

Particularly, President Obama had this to say about the Republicans who initiated this shutdown on the basis of the aforementioned policy and budget disagreement: “Go out there and win an election.”

Though the shutdown has ended, it has been forecasted that it will have cost the US economy billions of dollars. Additionally, though government workers affected by the situation will receive back pay, many were still severely impacted by the delay in their salaries.

The shutdown also had additional effects, such as: denying tourists and visitors access to national sites of interest, delaying various medical research projects, as well as delaying official paperwork such as visa applications, business permits, wedding certificates, and safety inspections. As a result of the far-reaching and varied nature of the shutdown, it may be some time before the full impact can be assessed, including its impact on Canada and the Canadian economy, if it can be at all.