The Current

The personal costs of the U.S. government shutdown

The righteous anger of the Tea-Party driven Republicans has sparked anger of its own as Americans with government jobs and government contracts realize they are collateral damage. Today we look at the individual consequences of Washington's political fight....
The righteous anger of the Tea-Party driven Republicans has sparked anger of its own as Americans with government jobs and government contracts realize they are collateral damage. Today we look at the individual consequences of Washington's political fight. 



The impact of freezing "non-essential services"

"Office buildings will close, paycheques will be delayed. Vital services that seniors and veterans women and children businesses and our economy depend on will be hamstrung. Business owners would see delays in raising capital seeking infrastructure permits or rebuilding after hurricane sandy. Veterans who have sacrificed for their country will find their service centres unstaffed. Tourists will find everyone of America's national parks and monuments from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the statue of liberty immediately closed. And of course the communities and small businesses that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck".

This isn't exactly a case of bad luck. The US Congress is bound by its constitution to approve federal spending. It should be routine, but it isn't.

Often, the bills are saddled with extra provisions. This time, one of the provisions is a Republican-sponsored initiative to delay parts of the Affordable Health Care Act -- Obamacare for short, the President's signature achievement. The Democrats said no. The Republicans dug in. With no federal approval to cut cheques, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are not working, and many government services are closed.

Tom Penders is a government employee with the US Air Force. He has been on leave what the U.S. government calls furlough since October 1st because of the government shutdown. He was in Titusville, Florida.

Other parents are struggling in the wake of closures. Lashaun Sims is from Rock Hill Carolina. Her four year-old daughter is enrolled in Head Start - an education program for children from low-income families. But the program shut its door indefinitely Friday because of the government shut down.

"My daughter is very heartbroken. She looks forward to getting up every morning and going to school and she's learned so much. The program is so effective. It just works all the way around with me being a working parent, having her there in a safe place and being educated at the same time, and now the doors have been closed, it's just real hard. For one thing we have to worry about now is getting her into a child care program. It's really going hurt, It's really gonna hurt because knowing that once you're at work, your child is at school getting an education, now all of that has come to a standstill".Lashaun Sims , Mother of 4 year-old-daughter, her school has closed

Government contractors are also hit hard by the shut down. Tony Jimenez is the President and CEO of MicroTech... a technology integration company in Vienna, Virginia.

And there's another human cost of the government shutdown. Michelle Langbehn is a 30-year-old mother in California who has fibrosarcoma, a rare cancer. The National Institutes of Health is considering her for a clinical drug trial but speaking on CNN, she explained -- that's now on hold.

"I was upset and frustrated. This is a potential life saving drug. And to be told it's going to be postponed because the shut down occurred was rather upsetting. There are not many approved treatment options out there for us so it's extremely important. I've already completed two different chemo regimens and it's taking the toll. My body's not responding as well as it used to with chemo, so I need to look at other options. It's about people that are in need, people that have cancer just like me, that frankly cannot wait".Michelle Langbehn, cancer patient waiting for clinical drug trial now on hold

To give us a better understanding of how wide-reaching the impact of the government shutdown is on Americans, we were joined by Kate Nocera. She reports from Capitol Hill for Buzzfeed in Washington, D.C.


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This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch, Elizabeth Hoath and Marc Apollonio.

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