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Lessons From the Government Shutdown

It is over for now. The plan of the Tea Party led by Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and a dozen more right-wing demagogues ended up in failure…for now. The federal government was shut down for 15 days and the debt ceiling was nearly breached. The consequences were serious, the cost enormous. Over 800,000 people were furloughed (including thousands in Western New York alone), the EPA, CDC, NLRB, FDA and dozens more agencies were shut down, threatening our health and safety. A world-wide economic downturn was a near reality. The full faith and credit of the US treasury was compromised, all this at a cost of around $24 billion. Why? For what? And the more important question is for whom?

The right wing of the Republican Party, including Congressmen Collins and Reed, are on a crusade to destroy the Affordable Care Act as a key tactic in their effort to severely weaken the presidency of Barack Obama. “Defunding” and “repealing” the ACA (which they have voted do 42 times) would be the first act in their assault on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, or any programs of the government aimed at aiding the living standards of ordinary people.

Our labor movement is made up of people who will not sit by quietly while our society is tipped even further towards the real beneficiaries of their program: the one percent. We applaud the president for standing firm against the most basic form of political opportunism and blackmail and we will continue to fight in the coming months to protect the basic economic rights and political liberties of the 99 percent.

- Richard Lipsitz Jr

President, WNY Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO

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