The government shutdown has now gone on for five days (counting today). What has it accomplished? U.S. prestige is plummeting globally. We're looking more and more like a banana republic, a third world nation that's going to end up about as influential on the world stage as the Maldives or East Timor if the extreme right wing keeps its posturing up much longer. The U.S. is really keen on telling other countries how to run their governments, but after this debacle why should anyone listen?
The shutdown is also damaging the economy: in addition to the federal employees placed on indefinite furlough, contractors and concessioners are shut down, and businesses that rely indirectly on the government are also hurting. How many days can a guy who operates a hot dog cart in front of an office building go with no customers before he's forced out of business? Whatever the economic cost ultimately is, it's probably going to be more than the current estimates of approximately $300 million a day.
Given that the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010 and has been rolling out incrementally ever since, it truly baffles me as to what the Tea Party minority within the Republican Party hoped to accomplish with their last minute grandstanding. Their posturing is the metaphorical equivalent of standing right in front of a 1,000-car BNSF coal train that's already moving at a good clip and hoping to stop it on a dime. Not going to happen. At this point, all one can do is hope the clown car that's parked on the tracks gets flattened, but, unfortunately for the country, its occupants are probably going to emerge unscathed.