Alter the shutdown process

As this editorial is written the federal government is well into the third week of the second shutdown in a year. The word filtering back from the country at large is that few people care—mostly those dependent on the government for their livelihood: contractors tour guides and hotel operators.

The combination of the natural slowdown during the holidays and makeshift solutions—such as Arizona paying to keep the Grand Canyon open—means that the shutdown still hasn't affected the population at large. No matter how many visitors are turned away from the Washington Monument and other national landmarks pressure will not be applied to either the administration or Congress until Social Security checks don't go out or veterans don't get benefit checks.

Federal workers of course have been promised they will be paid. They may be held hostage during this standoff but neither side wants to injure them financially. Estimates have already started floating around about how much this is costing taxpayers—in excess of millions of dollars a day in lost productivity.

One visitor from out of town was shocked to learn what this is costing. She had no idea workers were being paid for not working. She thought this was a fight about balancing the budget not spending with no return.

We hope one byproduct of this stalemate will be for someone to propose altering the shutdown process. The current approach doesn't seem to be pushing either side to resolve the underlying issues and it is wasteful when the country can ill afford it.

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