Shut it down

Members of Congress are busy pointing fingers while the threat of a federal government shutdown looms.  The federal government has had more than a dozen shutdowns since 1981.  Some only lasted a few hours.   While others were more memorable such as the federal government shutdown during the Clinton administration in 1995 and 1996.

The latest congressional showdown centers on spending for the current fiscal year.  House Republicans have promised to cut over 60 billion from discretionary non-security programs.  The programs comprise of only 12 percent of the entire budget and exclude items such as the military, Social Security and Medicare.  President Obama and House Democrats say such cuts would be reckless and damaging at a time when the economic recovery remains fragile.  They propose to freeze discretionary non-security spending at current levels for five years.  That would slow or halt the typical annual climb, but Republicans say it’s not enough. The current funding measure expires on March 4.

Leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties say they are determined to avoid a shutdown.  Both parties say they have given as much ground as possible.    During a news conference President Obama addressed the possibility of a federal shutdown.  “Federal spending must be tamed but, let’s use a scalpel.  Let’s not use a machete.  And if we do that, there should be no reason at all for a government shutdown.”

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