Shutdown Cramps S.B. Style

Washington Gridlock Affecting Public and Private Sectors

Thursday, October 10, 2013
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It’s been more than a week since the U.S. government froze during a high-stakes squabble between Republican lawmakers and the president over federal spending and the implementation of Obamacare, and as of press time, Congressmember Lois Capps’s latest motion marked the ninth time policymakers have attempted to alleviate the standstill.

On Tuesday, Capps led a measure to give the House of Representatives an opportunity to vote on the Senate spending bill, which would have funded the federal government for the time being ​— ​until November 15 ​— ​at the negotiated rate of $986 billion and given both houses more time to reach a long-term budget compromise. “The shutdown could have ended right here,” Capps said on the House floor after the motion died. “Instead we find ourselves here, picking and choosing, and waiting for them to decide whose lucky day it is to be funded by the Republican leadership.”

Last week, Capps conducted a conference call ​— ​briefly postponed by the Capitol Hill shooting ​— ​to discuss tensions in Washington and its impact on her constituents on the Central Coast. Capps said the “misguided” and “unnecessary” decision by the “irresponsible Tea Party wing” of the Republicans in the House has seriously impacted many residents ​— ​not just government employees ​— ​throughout Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties.

“We’re really playing with fire,” Capps said. Employees affected in her district include those who work at the Carrizo Plain National Monument, the Goodwin Education Center near Painted Rock, Camp Roberts Historical Museum, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Los Padres National Forest, the California National Guard, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, as well as countless small businesses and those working in the private sector.

At Vandenberg Air Force Base, 816 of the nearly 1,100 civilian employees with the 30th Space Wing who were furloughed last week have returned to work. According to the U.S. Air Force website, civilians are expected to be paid retroactively; military personnel were not furloughed. “Unfortunately, the return of our civilians does not necessarily mean we are back to business as usual,” Col. Keith Balts said. “Without an approved budget, we are limited in how we spend our resources. And depending on how long this budget uncertainty will last, we may have to take additional steps with respect to our personnel or operations here on base.”

The private sector has experienced setbacks, as well. Santa Barbara Adventure Company Director Michael Cohen said he had to downsize operations dramatically because one-third of his outdoor business involves kayak trips and sea-cave tours of the Channel Islands National Park, which is currently closed to the public. Cohen added he had to cancel school field trips and corporate team-building outings ​— ​planned months in advance by customers often traveling long distances ​— ​through October 10, costing his company an estimated $33,000. He also had to scale down from 15 employees to five for the time being.

“I certainly hope it changes,” Cohen said. “My two sons, who are 5 and 7, are able to work out differences when they have a disagreement. … Congressional leaders are hurting small business and the public.” Santa Barbara Adventure Company, he went on, is currently offering a “shutdown special”: 50 percent off for all government employees joining an existing, non-islands trip, and 25 percent off gift certificates and vouchers for future island trips if visitors purchase them before the shutdown ends.

Capps is also part of efforts to ensure members of Congress are not paid during the shutdown. Further, she added that uncertainty at the national level sparked constituents ​— ​including potential start-up companies on the Central Coast ​— ​to ask: Can we rely on the federal government? “That cripples us tremendously,” Capps said, adding she plans to work hard to instill faith back into the federal government. “I want that consistency, to be a reliable partner with the private sector.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

It will get an awful lot worse before it gets better.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
October 16, 2013 at 5:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Playing with fire Mrs. Capps, is continuing to run up the federal debt. That is why there are debt limits. They are brakes on US indebtedness.

If you keep exceeding these limits with pro-forma exemptions, why did not not sponsor legislation to eliminate the debt ceiling permanently. Instead of just acting like you did.

You have seniority in Congress, Mrs Capps. Show us some moral fiber now as well.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 16, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

debt limits are ridiculous, which is why most civilized western countries don't bother with them. We need to pay OUR PAST BILLS, which various Congresses have run up, with many many votes from Republican Reps. and Senators -- hey, foo, I pay my bills on time. Do you? Of course you do (I assume), and so must the US government. Congress needs to do its job: pay for costs it has run up (howevermuch you may hate that spending); then work on seeing how to whittle down expenditures: but that is another issue.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 16, 2013 at 12:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? It's like telling your credit card company that an increase in your credit line will help you make ends meet..

The only difference is that if the individual does that, the day of reckoning comes sooner.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 16, 2013 at 1:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When you understand the nature of our money, you understand the nature of debt and why it is created.

This. Isn't. Necessary.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
October 16, 2013 at 9:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The government is back open. Yawn.

Look how much our lawmakers care about us:

"Tucked amid the funding measures found in the Senate's bill to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling is a payment to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, widow of late Senator Frank Lautenberg.

The Senate resolution includes a $174,000 tax-free payment to the widow of the New Jersey Democrat who died June 3. At the time of his death, Lautenberg was worth an estimated $56.8 million."

loonpt (anonymous profile)
October 17, 2013 at 8:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Newest unfunded liability are the Obamacare deductibles. How many will actually put that amount in their savings account and reserve it just for health care needs when their Obamacare plan kicks in?

Or will they just stick this amount to someone else to pay when they land at the emergency room door with no money to pay the Obamacare deductible.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 18, 2013 at 9:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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