Dysfunctional government

As government shutdown plods along and increasingly delays services, loss of federal resources will negatively affect citizens who can least afford it.

Funded through national grants, the Meriden YMCA Head Start preschool program symbolizes the potential damage for communities across the country. Low-income families can send young kids to the city learning center. Benefits of early education can last a lifetime, making all the difference in a child’s maturation. But if shutdown were to close these classrooms, invaluable opportunities for academic growth would diminish.

Thankfully, Head Start received a $1.6 million grant in March. Not until Dec. 1 is the program up again for funding renewal. Had this important date been Oct. 1, then families in need could have been deprived of preschool classes.

Head Start may have sufficient finances to last until political partisanship yields to better judgment. But government cessation has cut off the local program’s ability to receive support from the regional office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human services. Already, a valuable community asset is impacted.

And so it is, nationwide. Prolonged shutdown means an uncertain outlook for social services. People, who through no fault of their own have fallen into difficult circumstances, stand to lose access to — or aid from — programs which assist in their challenging lives.

In protracted shutdown, this situation will only worsen, broadening in scope of who and what is affected. The gradual recovery of the global economy is at stake. Closed-down, dysfunctional government engenders a downward spiral of fiscal turmoil. Wall Street will reel if impasse in Washington D.C. brings about default on national debt after the Oct. 17 deadline to raise the limit is met without action. With a significant population of financial-sector employees in Fairfield County — from which the state generates considerable tax revenue — Connecticut faces a gloomy financial future should investment markets falter.

With so much forced to abide in peril, legislators seem content to continue their shortsighted game of political chicken. Although fanatical Tea-Party recalcitrance is the chief cause of this shutdown, it’s noteworthy that President Obama remains disinterested in the bargaining table, even with many national concerns over Obamacare. Not that the president has much motivation to reconsider his signature achievement, given fervid, foolish, repeated efforts by conservatives to defund the healthcare law.

The only solution is negotiation, compromise, and forging an acceptable legislative middle between Democrats and Republicans. Unyielding partisanship is the monkey wrench in the gears of American government. Of course, some extent of disagreement is natural between parties with ideological differences. Problem is, when discord reaches such historically rancorous levels as to close down Washington D.C., those who most lose out are in-need individuals whose well-being, and prospects for a better tomorrow, may reside in the beneficial services normally provided by a stalled, dysfunctional government.



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