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Is shutdown a sorry spectacle, or shock treatment?

Story highlights

  • CNN commentators assess the impact and causes of the government shutdown
  • Frida Ghitis: The spectacle is baffling to America's friends, encouraging to its enemies
  • David Gergen: The shutdown is bad, but could have a silver lining if it forestalls default
  • Matt Welch: As in the past, we'll survive the shutdown without lasting effects

Since the start of the government shutdown October 1, analysts, journalists and experts have been sorting through the claims of Republicans and Democrats about the underlying issues in the budget dispute. Here's a sampling of pieces published by CNN Opinion:

Frida Ghitis: World baffled by America's self-inflicted wound

Frida Ghitis

America's enemies must be laughing. But most of the world is just baffled, mystified at the sight of the world's most powerful country tangled in a crippling web of its own making. The government shutdown is weakening the United States before its allies and its foes. It is eroding American standing and prestige while reducing American power and influence. The democracy that once inspired the world now leaves observers perplexed. Read more

Bob Greene: Taxpayers, you deserve your money back

Bob Greene

If we had paid for an airline ticket, and in the middle of our trip the airline informed us that one leg of our journey had been canceled, we would justifiably demand a refund. If we ordered an annual subscription to 52 weeks of a magazine, and then, a few months into it, the magazine told us that its new policy was to publish only 26 issues a year, we would, with good reason, ask for half of our money back. If we paid for a one-year membership in a health club, and the club announced that it would have to close for repairs for three months, we would expect a 25% refund. So ... exactly when can we expect to see our refund checks from the federal government? Read more

    David Gergen: Shutdown could be shock therapy

    David Gergen

    Yes, conservative hard-liners have chosen the wrong place to fight; arguments over Obamacare are no excuse to shut down the government. Yes, hard-liners like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are creating deeper partisan divides. But Democrats can ill afford to continue rejecting any talks or negotiations. Now that the shutdown has happened, Obama has a fresh opportunity -- indeed a fresh responsibility -- to seize the mantle of leadership and get us out of this mess. Instead of just blaming the Republicans, he should call in the leaders of both parties and in Lyndon Johnson fashion, keep 'em talking till they get a deal. Read more

    Marian Currinder and Josh Huder: Boehner's bad choices

    Marian Currinder
    Josh Huder

    No House speaker wants to go down in history for a legislative record opposed by the majority of his or her own party. And no speaker wants to go down in history for presiding over one of the most unproductive Congresses in history. But these are Boehner's choices.

    While [former Speaker Dennis] Hastert relied on a majority of the majority, Boehner has had to rely on a minority of the majority, together with a majority of the minority, to pass important legislation. Read more

    David Rothkopf: Where's the outrage?

    David Rothkopf

    The most stunning thing about this first shutdown of the U.S. government in almost two decades is the degree to which it is a nonevent, considered par for the course given the sad state of affairs in the nation's capital. Voters may be angry. They may be depressed. But there are no mass demonstrations. Congress' approval rating may have hit new lows, but beyond that, the response has been a shrug. Read more

    Thomas Mann: GOP House can't claim to speak for America

    Thomas Mann

    The Affordable Care Act is law. End of story. The House Republicans' attempt to nullify a duly enacted law violates the norms of our constitutional system. It is reckless economically and an egregious affront to our democratic form of government. Read more

    Matt Welch: Government shutdown is nothing to worry about

    Matt Welch

    So when President Barack Obama says the shutdown will "throw a wrench into the gears of our economy" and put "the American people's hard-earned progress at risk," it is appropriate to treat such claims with skepticism. As we saw during the run-up to the March 1 sequestration trims in federal spending, politicians are incentivized by self-interest and unconstrained by shame in maximizing the hyperbole about what may happen if their ability to collect and redistribute our money is impeded even a little bit. Read more

    Theresa Pierno: Parks take the hit for Congress' failure

    Theresa Pierno

    The closure of America's crown jewels threatens the livelihood of park businesses, gateway communities and the American families within them, whose economies rely on national parks being open for business. Families, school groups and tourists from around the world who have made plans to visit and enjoy our national heritage will face disappointment. Bar Harbor, Maine, adjacent to Acadia National Park, attracts nearly 10,000 visitors daily in October. The loss of these visitors could be shattering to a community that relies on that final flush of tourism dollars before the steep drop-off in winter...The federal government shutdown has made a bad situation even worse for our national parks. Over the past three years, the National Park Service's budget has been cut by 13%, or about $315 million. Read more

    Dean Obeidallah: 10% of Americans like Congress -- are they nuts?

    Dean Obeidallah

    When you think that 10% of Americans believe Congress is doing a good job, you have to ask yourself one question: Who are these people?...Congress is so dysfunctional that dictators in other countries are probably pointing at it as an example of why you should never have a democracy. Yet, somehow, about 30 million Americans are looking at what Congress is doing and thinking: "I like what I see." If you actually think Congress is doing a good job, something is terribly awry in your life. People in your family need to stage an immediate intervention. Read more

    Meg Urry: NASA shutdown a blow to science

    Meg Urry

    Scientists at NASA and the National Science Foundation are some of the hardest-working people I know. The government shutdown means they are forbidden to do any work. They can't take their laptops home or phone into teleconferences from home, the way I might if a hurricane or snowstorm threatened Yale. So, you might think they are having a nice (though unpaid) vacation. But actually, the same work is sitting on their desk when they get back, and it all has to get done. So it means they'll work longer hours to catch up and for most civil servant scientists, there is no such thing as overtime pay. Read more

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