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From VOA LearningEnglish, this is In the News.
This week, a politicaldispute in Washington a partialshutdown of the UnitedStatesgovernment for the firsttime in almost 20 years. Agenciessenthomemorethan 800,000 workers -- aboutone-third of the federalworkforce.
The newbudgetyearbeganTuesday, October 1. But Republicans in Congressblockedevenshort-termspending for manygovernmentoperations. Theydemanded that Democratschange the CareAct, the newhealthcarelawoftencalledObamacare. The Democratsrefused.
The shutdowndid not stopTuesday’s launch of onlinemarketplaces, calledexchanges, at the center of the law. The federalgovernment and statesstartedwebsites for millions of Americans to buyhealthplans or pay a taxpenalty.
Opponents of Obamacaresay it will forcepeople and smallbusinesses to buyinsurancepoliciesagainsttheir will.
At the heart of the dispute is a clashbetween the twomajorpoliticalpartiesover the role of the centralgovernment in Americanlife.
The politicalfightingbetweenDemocrats and Republicansbegan to intensifyduring the 1990s. That followed the election of DemocratBillClinton as president. Differencesoverspending and the role of governmentled to twogovernmentshutdowns.
The disputedpresidentialelection of 2000 broughtRepublicanGeorge W. Bush to office. University of VirginiaexpertLarrySabatosays the politicalbattlesonlyduringhissecondterm.
“There is no question that the polarizationincreasedfirstwith the Bushpresidency, because of the Iraqwar and hishandling of HurricaneKatrina. Then it acceleratedoncePresidentObama was elected.” The dividegrewwiderwhenPresidentBarackObamapushedhishealthcarereformlawthroughCongress in 2010 without a singleRepublicanvote. That in turnhelped to fuel the rise of TeaPartygroupsaround the country. The TeaParty is a votinggroupwithin the RepublicanParty.
Republicanshavemadeseveralattempts to eitherdefund the AffordableCareAct or delay it. The law is one of the mostimportantacts of BarackObama’s presidency.
PeterBrown of QuinnipiacUniversity in Connecticutstudiespublicopinion.
“Republicanslikesmallergovernment and lowergovernmentspending and therefore are moreObamacare. Democratstend to be moresupportive in general of governmentsolutions to problems, and theyseeObamacare as the rightthing to do to help on the healthcareissue.”
Currently, Republicanscontrol the House of Representatives; Democratshold the Senate and the WhiteHouse. A group of conservativeRepublicans in the Househave been leading the opposition to the healthcarelaw. Many of themnowdepend on strongsupport from TeaPartyactivists to getelected. LarrySabatosaysmany of them are willing, at least for now, to accept the politicalblame for the government to shutdown.
“They will pay a biggerprice, but theyseemwilling to pay it in partbecausemost of theirmembers are in completelysafe (congressional)districts. The onlythingtheyhave to worryabout is a challenge from the right in the Republicanprimary. Sotheydo not want to letanybodyget to theirright.”
For the moment, LarrySabatosees no quickend to the shutdown.
“They are sodeeply by party and by institution that it is difficult to see, ifpeoplestick to the principlestheyhavearticulated, how this is going to be resolved. It could go on and on. And of course it will dodamage, not just to oureconomy but to ourimagearound the world.”
PoliticalobserverCharlieCooksayssome of the Republicanopposition is alsodriven by deepfeelingsagainstPresidentObama.
“There are a lot of RepublicanswhereifPresidentObamasaid ‘up,’ theywouldsay ‘down.’
The lastpoliticallydrivengovernmentshutdownbegan in December of 1995. It lastedthreeweeks.
And rightnowthere is anotherissue. Congress will soonhave to raise the or risk the UnitedStates not beingable to makeall of its loanpayments. Congressmustrenew the government's power to borrowmoney by October 17 or risk a first-ever federaldefault.
And that's In the News from VOA LearningEnglish. I’m AviArditti.