Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The truth about the government shutdown (as I see it)

Yesterday, the U.S. Federal Government shut down. The Pacific Daily News ran a story online titled, "BREAKING NEWS: Federal government shuts down". Surprisingly, the Pacific Daily News' initial release was relatively accurate in its characterization of the cause of the shutdown:
The federal government shut down for the first time in nearly two decades following more than a week of legislative jockeying by House Republicans to extract concessions from President Obama and Senate Democrats on the Affordable Care Act.[1]
This does not have the sort of false balance that is common in stories in the media on this issue. Basically, the Republicans in the House of Representatives are holding the nation hostage for narrow partisan goal of denying the full implementation of a universal health care plan which helps provide most Americans access to health insurance through local insurance exchanges, community rating and subsidies for low-income families. This is ironic because, as Paul Krugman has pointed out, the plan is virtually identical to the Republican-implemented Massachusetts health plan, aka "RomneyCare", which was modeled from a plan by the conservative Heritage Foundation, which was drafted when President Bill Clinton was unveiling his own national health plan in the early 1990s. The conservative plan is now colloquially called ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act), which the national Republican Party, and particularly the Congressional Republicans, are attempting to derail.

Consider also what Governor Eddie Baza Calvo had to say in the same story:
It is a true shame that Congress and the Obama administration value politics over governance. Any day when elected leaders bicker to the point of shutting down the government is a sad day in American history indeed. We just hope Congress and the President can resolve this before needy Americans and Guamanians are left without the help the federal government is supposed to provide.[1]
Governor Calvo's statement glosses over the nature of the conflict and that it is basically Republican intransigence, not that of the Democrats in Congress or President Obama that have "bicker[ed] to the point of shutting down the government".

In today's story, however, the Pacific Daily News took a somewhat more obscure stance on why there is disagreement between the Congressional Republicans and Democrats, stating:
The first shutdown in close to two decades came yesterday after the president and congressional Democrats refused to yield to Republican demands to change the nation's health care law, according to reports by The Associated Press.[2]
This statement makes it the Democrats' fault, since they refused to yield. The term Republican "demands" is pretty much right, but clearly their desire is to delay or derail the nation's health care law, not merely "change" it.

The Marianas Variety story in today's paper got it more or less right:
The shutdown is the result of U.S. Congress' failure to pass a budget for the new fiscal year because of their disagreement over the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.[3]
I'll rewrite that as it is most accurately presented: "The shutdown is the result of the Republican U.S. Congress' failure to pass a budget for the new fiscal year because of their  attempted blackmail to prevent the implementation of disagreement over the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare." The statement in the Marianas Variety is technically accurate, as are most of the brief statements I have reviewed, but there are omissions or blurry phrases that mask the true nature of the conflict.

[1] Staff. "BREAKING NEWS: Federal government shuts down"Pacific Daily News. Hagatna, 1 Oct. 2013.
[2] Cameron Miculka. "Shutdown furloughs hundreds in Guam". Pacific Daily News. Hagatna, 2 Oct. 2013.
[3] Frank Whitman. "Shutdown begins". Marianas Variety. Tamuning, 2 Oct. 2013.


  1. Great piece. Please continue to push your well thought analyses on the issues that our local papers write in a manner as to inculcate in the minds of our people their slant.

  2. Next time we elect officials, we must make sure our chosen candidates are against a government shut down.

  3. I hope the voters are able to see this for what it is (just what you said, Julian!) and can see through the cynical manipulations of the truth by Faux News and others of that ilk. Unfortunately, I don't believe the average person thinks critically about what he/she hears or reads in the media. If the voters could see the truth, this would be the end of the so-called Tea Party movement and perhaps even the Republican Party..... I can dream, can't I??

  4. If Reed and Pelosi had allowed debate on he provisions of the AFFORDABLE CARE act it would not have passed as is. Therefore Republicans in the House have only one way to force negotiation of various provisions and that is to withhold funding. So, who started and is responsible for the shut down?

  5. Anonymous:
    (1) I do not believe your hypothetical, which is backed up by no evidence, but is just a naked assertion;
    (2) You are agreeing that the Republican Congressmen are in the extortion racket; and
    (3) Are you actually claiming the moral high ground for the Republicans, here?