Does anyone remember prior government shutdowns?

July 26, 2011

Does anyone remember President Clinton's 1995 government shutdown as a result of a fight with Newt Gingrich? It has been estimated it impacted all sectors of the U.S. economy. Health and welfare services for military veterans were curtailed; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped disease surveillance. Toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites was halted. Other impacts included: the closure of 368 National Park sites and the loss of some 7 million visitors; 200,000 applications for passports and 20,000 to 30,000 applications for visas by foreigners went unprocessed each day; U.S. tourism industries incurred millions of dollars in losses; federal contracts, representing $3.7 billion in spending, were affected adversely.

Now fast-forward to 2011 and it's deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra said. Don't have any toxic dumps in your neighborhood these days? Not planning any foreign travel? Hey, what's the big deal, shut 'em down, let 'em weep. After all, someday your pass-book savings account earning 0.25 percent interest may reach $1 million dollars and you too can claim the same lightly-taxed status as House Speaker John Boehner (supposedly a self-made millionaire himself).

I was amazed to see the stats, from an old 2010 Fox News story, about how many U.S. Congressmen qualify for millionaire status. One can't help but wonder of the lifestyle of millionaires relative to their empathy for the remaining and growing poverty level that have most recently been targeted for potential funding cuts or even overhauling of major government entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) that have been used to leverage, or in some cases totally fund many retired Americans. I have watched in amazement as people close to me continue to slip in their standard of living. Now multiply that by millions of retired persons who are poised on the edge of financial solvency that have cut every last dollar of "luxury" from their lives.

What do they have left, where do they turn? The answer is they fall into the government "safety net," be it federal, state or local for the meager basics of life. But hey, won't that simply shift the burden and not resolve the budget problem? So much for the fate of the "Greatest Generation," now in their late 80s, and a rather sad epitaph from the leaders of this great nation.

Robert Somers, Perry Hall

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