The BBC and Channel 4 present the partial shutdown of the US government as evidence of a malfunctioning democracy. They seem to mainly blame the Republicans for daring to oppose the President. Clearly Mr Obama’s spin carries a long way. They spread scare stories that the US will renege on some of its debts by failing to pay interest on money it has borrowed.
I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I occasionally comment on US politics, but am not a partisan, as it is not my country. I do expect UK public service broadcasters to give a fair and balanced view, to explain both sides properly.
The Republicans would say that the temporary partial shutdown is the result of an administration that cannot live within its means and needs to cut more to control its debts and deficit. The Democrats raise the spectre of debt interest going unpaid, bringing the US credit rating crashing down. They suggest the poor will go without their Federal pay cheques. The Republicans point out that n either of these bad events need happen.
Over the weeks ahead tax revenue will pour into the Treasury in large enough quantities to pay the interest on the debt and make the necessary and most deserving payments. If there is no deal to raise the debt ceiling, then the Administration would have to cut back on less essential spending to live within its means. The President can also negotiate with the Republicans controlling the Congress to find a way forward so he can borrow some more, as that is clearly his wish.
It takes two sides to achieve a breakdown. It is shows how vigorous and dramatic politics can be in the US, where the executive and legislature are different bodies and the Congress is controlled by a different party with a different view on safe levels of borrowing to the President.
The US has had partial government shutdowns before. Doubtless there will be a deal in due course. The Republicans are highlighting the huge debts and deficits the US has built up and are forcing change to tackle them. UK observers could at least seek to understand the reasons on both sides. This is not commonsense and decency against a group of extremists,. This is a gripping battle for the soul of America between its two major parties. The Republicans want the deficit down more quickly and are using Congress to try to achieve that. They see Obama’s health care proposals as the extra spending the US cannot afford.