Originally Published: October 19, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Now that the doors to federal government offices are open after the showdown to the partial shutdown ended Wednesday, we wonder what lessons we may have or should have learned from this 16-day twin crisis over the national budget and possible default on our country's financial obligations.
Other than the thousands of federal workers who were furloughed, barricades that went up at national parks were among the more visible effects of the shutdown - and costly, too.
Now, the U.S. Interior Department says Congress will have to decide whether to repay states that decided to reopen national parks within their boundaries, Arizona's Grand Canyon being one of them. It seems that Congress overlooked explicit authorization for reimbursement to the states in the dash to end the shutdown before the clock struck midnight Wednesday.
It cost Arizona a mighty sum to reopen the Grand Canyon, but at the same time, the state was losing nearly about $66,000 a day in tourism revenue. The state expects a refund in the amount of $465,000, the unused portion of the $1.5 million it paid the government to reopen the canyon for 16 days. The state also expects reimbursement for the welfare payments it made while federal funding was cut off from the program for low-income families.
The economy took a real hit, too, with the partial shutdown, and this on the heels of the Great Recession that left damaging effects on the country, some still lingering.
Expectations are that it will take months before we know what the shutdown did to the economy, but it's already obvious that it left its mark. Spending at chain retail stores fell 0.7 percent last week, mortgage applications dropped 5 percent and auto sales went down about 2 percent. Overall, Standard & Poor's economist Beth Ann Bovino said the shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion, prompting her to cut her forecast in the October-December quarter to 2.4 percent annual rate from an earlier estimate of 3 percent.
These are only a few questions that come to mind when reflecting on the Great Shutdown of 2013.
Will there be a sequel come early 2014? Will the dissenting factions - mostly in the Republican Party - get it together before the drama begins anew on Jan. 15 when time runs out on finalizing a budget and Feb. 7 when the Treasury will no longer be permitted to "normally" borrow money to pay the country's bills.
That's the $64,000 question, because if they don't, the American public can expect the same trip to the edge when the stopgap action Congress took this week hits the wall, and we go through it all over again.
Here's the overarching lesson we hope Washington learns from the past 16 days.
Americans are fed up with the behavior we've been forced to watch.
Mid-term elections loom, and Americans have been keeping score.