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Americans Sound Off on Budget Woes

  • Michael Bowman

In the past three years, Americans have endured three threatened government shutdowns, two legislative brawls over raising the debt limit, and another fight over automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. Fiscal drama has become the norm in Washington, but Americans are of many different minds on the lurch to crisis governance.

Far removed from the formality of Washington, Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles is distant geographically and culturally from the nation’s capital. Tony, a tattoo artist, said he refuses to lose sleep over yet another episode of dysfunction in Washington.

"I can't do anything about it, so I'm not going to stress over something I can't change. So I just take care of myself and my family, and that's all I can do," he said.

Others hope for yet another last-minute deal to avert a government shutdown.

“They're not going to let it go. This is America. They have to do something,” said Gregg Donovan, a Hollywood greeter.

“I mean, the Republicans are nuts,” said Perry Mann, a street actor.

Some blame Republicans for near-constant fiscal drama.

“They're wasting their time and they're threatening to shut down the government. I mean, they don't care about anybody but themselves,” said Mann.

Others blame President Barack Obama and his signature health care law.

“I support defunding Obamacare. I think Obamacare is a disaster. When they say government shutdown, it doesn't mean that everything is going to stop,” said Larry Green, a tour industry worker.

And some prefer not to follow the news in Washington.

"Not as much as I should, I admit, and I probably represent quite a few people. But about the budget impasse, I think it happened so many times before,” said Julie Mammano, a children's author.

With fiscal showdowns common, some Americans may shrug at Washington’s current impasse. But that will change if the federal government closes on October 1, according to analyst Stan Collender.

“This will start to have an impact on people’s thinking when it has an impact on their lives - not when they are hearing about the possibility on the news, but when they call the Department of Education and no one is there to answer the phone. Or when they need a visa or a passport and no one is there to process it," said Collender.

Collender thinks this time a shutdown is more likely than not, and that Americans are suffering from what he calls “crisis fatigue.”

No one should underestimate consequences of a shutdown, according to Democratic Senator Charles Schumer. “I think the American people get very aware when the stock market goes down 2,000 points.”

In New York, some urge consequences for members of Congress. "I think they should all be fired,” said Linda, a visitor to New York.

From New York to Los Angeles, Americans could do just that in next year’s congressional elections.
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