Local News

Opinions vary on possible government shutdown

SEBRING - If you're a Highlands County resident receiving Social Security benefits, that probably won't change if the government shuts down next week. But if you need the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce a law, you may be out of luck. And the value of your stocks may drop. As is the case with Republicans and Democrats at the national level, local Republican and Democrat officials expressed sharply differing views regarding the looming shutdown on Oct. 1 if Congress does not pass a spending bill.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a government funding bill that defunds President Barack Obama's health care law, called the Affordable Care Act or otherwise known as Obamacare. It's considered unlikely the Democratically controlled Senate would agree to that, and even if it does, the president says he would veto it, leading to the deadlock. Kathy Rapp, chairwoman of the Highlands County Republican Party, said although she doesn't tend to believe that government will shut down in the end, at the very least, if the issue is brought to a vote, senators will have to take a position. "I personally think we need to take a stand," Rapp said. "The people hate Obamacare. Let those senators who are going to be running for re-election decide who they are going to please -- their constituents or the president." Rapp said if the plan goes forward, it's going to be a "train wreck." "The middle class are the ones who are going to be suffering from this," she added. But Dave McCarthy, chairman of the Highlands County Democratic Party, said this is a chance for the Republican Party to decide whether it's going to be controlled by extremists who insist the party go in a certain direction. McCarthy said a majority want to try the health care act, but that the opposition is coming from extreme partisans. He said he believes the members of Congress are "nuts" to want to defund the health care act even if it means shutting down government. People's opinions on the health care act are affected by who they are listening to, he said. On Facebook Monday morning ,people expressing their views were by a large margin supportive of defunding Obamacare, even if it means shutting down the government. "I'm not Republican, but I don't like Obama care," stated June Stone Storicks. "I think it's a big mess." Zachary Simon Blatt expressed similar views. "...How can you shove another cost down the throats of people who already can't make it." But Joel Pacheco supported keeping the health act. "It will be the Republican's fault and it will cost next election," he wrote. "Just because polls on Fox News say people want it repealed, does not mean America wants it repealed. The prior polls in the prior elections proved this, not just on an electoral vote level, but popular vote as well. Republicans will have to learn it's the American people's way, not there's." The shutdown of government would occur if Congress doesn't resolve the issue of funding the healthcare act. According to the Huffington Post, people would get Social Security benefits, and Medicare would continue, although payments to doctors and hospitals might be delayed. Huffington Post also reports the national parks would be shut down and the National Cherry Blossom Festal Parade may be canceled. Air traffic controllers would stay on their jobs, but federal medical research would be disrupted, and pay for troops would be delayed, the Huffington Post added. Mail delivery would continue. The Environmental Protection Agency would essentially shut down, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. As for stocks, both John Clark, head of Waypoints Financial in Sebring, and Phillip Statler, head of Statler Financial in Sebring, predicted stock values would fall. "How much is anyone's guess," Statler said. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com