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Alternative Market Briefing

What might be avoided if the US government shutdown comes to an end

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

John Brynjolfsson
Benedicte Gravrand, Opalesque Geneva:

A political dispute was at the source of the partial shutdown of the American government, which started two weeks ago. President Obama put forward a reform program for US healthcare (the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare), which Congress approved. There were legal challenges but the program was endorsed in court. But there was strong opposition to the program, mainly from the Republican Party. Opponents added amendments to legislation funding government operations, so that legislation could only be passed if the reform program was blocked or delayed. Opponents got their way through the blocking of funding of the government, and as supporters of the reform refused to give in, the legislation to fund the government failed and the government shut down.

The shutdown brought on the issue of the debt ceiling, a ceiling on the amount of debt the US government can have, which only Congress can vote to increase. The Republicans are currently using this power to protest against Obama’s healthcare reforms, by not voting for an increase. The ceiling is currently set at $16.7tln, which was hit in May this year. Since then, according to the BBC, the US Treasury has been scrapping together all that it can to keep the government funded. Reserves are estimated to run out on October 17th. If everything stays the same, by the end of the month, the government may be forced to delay ......................

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