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by Eric Hammer | FTMDaily Contributing Writer
TEL AVIV, Mar 22 – With the earthquake in Japan, the possible nuclear meltdown in that country and the US invasion of a third Muslim country, you could be forgiven for forgetting temporarily about the once again looming US government shut down.
However, just because the world is in turmoil doesn’t mean that congress has since managed to get its act together. Instead, the Republic majority in the House of Representatives along with the Demoncrats in the Senate agreed to two additional stopgap measures, with the most recent one extending the deadline for a compromise to April 8 and cutting another $6 billion from the federal budget.
To put that $6 billion cut into perspective however, if you were to take home a $50,000 per year annual salary, in order to cut the same percentage from your annual budget as the federal government just did from its annual budget, you would have to reduce your monthly spending by around 2.9 cents. Republican leaders are demanding an additional $50 billion in cuts which the Democrats have said they simply cannot accept, thus leading to another showdown in a few weeks.
Interestingly, according to IndyStar, a blog run by Gannet publications, a poll was conducted recently in which some 80% of all Americans indicated that they want to see Congress compromise on the federal budget and avoid a government shutdown.
In the same poll, most Americans also said that they do not want the cuts that the Republican freshmen seem to be targeting most heavily. Most said they don’t want to see cuts in Medicare, medical or scientific research, education, community renewal programs or environmental protection.
Instead, the poll found that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel it’s time to bring the troops home and to cut foreign aid. Another popular target for cuts was the repeal of the Republican cherished tax cuts to the very wealthy.
Regarding the chances of a possible government shutdown on April 9, while the Democrats in the Senate did vote overwhelmingly for the latest budget compromise, they have also indicated that this will be the last time they will agree to such cuts without getting a final spending bill in place for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Over in the House of Representatives, Speaker Boehner had to contend with a restive group of freshman congressmen largely aligned with the Tea Party movement who felt that the new spending bills did not cut deeply enough. With President Obama out of the country and apparently not participating in any meaningful way in the budget battle, the chances of a government shutdown in a few weeks increase exponentially as each side digs in.
In all cases, even if there is a government shutdown, American armed forces operating in the Middle East theater would be largely unaffected since they are considered “vital personnel” and would thus be exempt from being sent home. However, those who are back home already and or who have been scheduled to rotate home may find it difficult to claim some benefits if there is a government shutdown as the Veterans Administration would largely be shuttered. Not exactly a pleasant homecoming for the troops.
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