Proceeding blindly

The government shut down yesterday causing that most nonessential federal agencies stop their operations. As a result, about 800,000 employees are furloughed without pay for an indefinite period of time and millions more that will retain their jobs will not receive pay either as long as this situation lasts.

There is no doubt that the general public will be impacted, including those applying for passports in federal buildings and Social Security beneficiaries—who will have their checks issued but won’t be able to call for immediate assistance.

In New York, about 50,000 federal workers have already been affected by the closures of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and other nationally funded attractions. This will also affect hundreds of businesses that cater to visitors to those sites, including street vendors and the tourism industry.

In the short term, the consequences aren’t catastrophic, only problematic. However, if the GOP and House Republicans don’t become reasonable, millions more will pay for the incompetence of a party that won’t legislate for the well-being of the people and instead chooses to defend its interests and narrow-minded agenda.

The Republican Party must stop holding this country hostage based on the ideology that health care reform is an axis of evil for our society. The Republican-controlled House approved a budget that won’t provide funding to implement the Affordable Care Act. On the other hand, the Democratic-majority Senate insists that the law be fully funded free of policy provisions.

The GOP’s actions ignore reality. During the election, Republicans campaigned to oust President Barack Obama, with an emphasis on repealing “Obamacare.” The American people spoke: Obama won.

If the government shutdown lasts for more than two weeks, it could potentially affect even more people who work directly with the federal government and others who benefit from its services.

For example, tax refunds for certain returns would be suspended, new Social Security applications won’t be processed, services for veterans could be delayed or curtailed and unemployment benefits could be impacted, depending on the length of the shutdown.

The GOP miscalculated this move and may end up paying a very high price. Over the next few days, instead of taking responsibility and putting the American people first, they’ll try to point fingers at the Democrats and the President instead of fixing the mess they have created.

Republicans have hurt themselves enough. Now it’s time to stop hurting the millions of people caught in the crossfire and put an end to this hostage situation.