Editorial: Don’t let government shut down your lives | AspenTimes.com

Editorial: Don’t let government shut down your lives

At first blush, we're having a little trouble taking Tuesday's so-called shutdown of the federal government completely seriously.

For one thing, it's only a temporary shutdown of "nonessential" services. While some government workers have been furloughed, Medicare, mail delivery, tax collection and the military will continue to operate. Trust us — the TSA, CIA, FBI, DEA and all the acronym-loving federal agencies that protect the nation are still on the job and always will be.

Second, the "shutdown" is being spurred by dysfunctional politicians in the House of Representatives — the misguided Republicans aligned or intimidated with the so-called tea party — that refuse to pass any budget providing funds for President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Generally, it's hard to take the threats of the teapartyers seriously, and the U.S. Senate will never allow such a crucial piece of health legislation to be hijacked by a group of extremists with total disregard for the health and welfare of ordinary Americans.

Yes, it is true there are local impacts: Fifth-graders from Aspen Middle School, we've been told, were on a bus trip Tuesday to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, when the bus was forced to turn around because the popular tourist site was closed.

Closer to home, Maroon Creek Road was closed to all uphill vehicular traffic just above the T Lazy 7 Ranch, about a-half mile below the U.S. Forest Service entry portal — meaning that all campgrounds, parking lots and restroom facilities at the Maroon Bells and all campgrounds in the Maroon Creek Valley were closed. (The site was still available to pedestrians and bicyclists.) While there is some offseason tourism impact to closing the Bells in the fall to bus trips and wedding parties, there are other places in the Roaring Fork Valley that provide a fantastic view of fall colors or serve as beautiful matrimonial backdrops.

Of course, the longer the shutdown remains, the more serious the effect. One or two days aren't going to make much difference; one or two weeks could be a different matter.

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Still, we would be surprised if the impasse goes beyond Thursday or Friday. One of the two factions is going to cave in this ridiculous game of political chicken, and with pressure mounting on the Republicans to end the charade — Obamacare"was ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and went into effect Tuesday — we doubt it will be the party in power in the White House and the Senate.

According to a story in Tuesday's Washington Post, some Republicans "conceded privately they might bear the brunt of any public anger over the shutdown — and seemed resigned to an eventual surrender in their latest bruising struggle with (President) Obama." We hope this report is accurate.

If nothing else, this latest "crisis" spells out the need for fundamental changes to the congressional budgeting system so that this sort of idiocy can never again be repeated. Perhaps legislation should be written to ensure that if a budget is not passed before Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year, House and Senate members will be the first federal workers to have their paychecks placed in limbo.

In the meantime, we strongly urge our readers to flood the office of U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, with your comments. He represents the 3rd District of Colorado, which includes Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. Tipton has aligned himself with the teaparty crowd, and he needs to hear your thoughts on the matter. His phone number in Washington, D.C., is 202-225-4761; his fax line is 202-226-9669; the link to his email address is https://tipton.house.gov/contact-me/email-me. Only his constituents have access to his government email account.

"It's unfortunate that the Senate and president would rather force a government shutdown than listen to Americans, or even have a conversation on possible alternatives to Obamacare to create a truly affordable and accessible health care system," Tipton is quoted as saying on his website.

Respectfully give him hell, for he is on the wrong side of this debate.