Just as the US economy had begun to enjoy a comfortable period of steady growth and the people of the US were about the join the well-insured ranks of the rest of the civilised world, the country has once again been globally embarrassed by the Republican party. On a day that should have seen the US lauded in newspaper headlines throughout the world for the advent of Obamacare, the government shutdown has smeared our international reputation with near Bush-era humiliation.
While Republicans continue trying to convince us that they’re acting out of anything other than shameful self-interest and pride, economists predict the shutdown will ‘cost the US at least $300 million a day in lost economic output.’ As many as 1 million federal employees are being placed on furlough, unsure of the financial consequences for themselves and their families. 368 national park services are closed, ruining the plans of an estimated 750,000 daily visitors and costing gateway communities up to $30 million a day.
On my walk home in Sydney tonight, I overheard a young woman telling a friend that her mother was stuck in Las Vegas after her Grand Canyon trek that she had travelled nearly 10,000 miles from Australia to the US to participate in had been cancelled.
The US’s international reputation had been steadily improving since 2008, with a few Republican candidate-induced setbacks during last year’s presidential election. The government shutdown, however, puts us at serious risk of reclaiming our world laughing stock title. Anthony Zurcher wrote for the BBC:
For most of the world, a government shutdown is very bad news – the result of revolution, invasion or disaster. Even in the middle of its ongoing civil war, the Syrian government has continued to pay its bills and workers’ wages. That leaders of one of the most powerful nations on earth willingly provoked a crisis that suspends public services and decreases economic growth is astonishing to many.
Another article says calling the shutdown “‘dysfunctional’ is merely polite. ‘Weird’ is more like it.” France’s Le Monde called it ‘grotesque.’ British Prime Minister David Cameron admonished the US for risking the world economy because it ‘can’t properly sort out its spending plans.’
If the Republicans want to preserve any of the US’s reputation, let alone their own party’s, they better resolve this, fast. In the meantime, celebrate some hard-won progress and sign up for healthcare!