Federal shutdown to have limited effect in Maine

In Maine, a federal government shutdown does not signal the end of mail delivery but could affect a range of things from fall tourism to flu readiness. The hardest hit likely would be the neediest Mainers, whose federal aid for housing, heating and food could be jeopardized by a long shutdown.

AP file photo

At Acadia National Park, where access is not controlled by gates or entrance stations, people can continue to drive, bike and hike. 

A shutdown began as of midnight Monday as lawmakers in Washington were unable to break a stalemate over a government spending resolution.

Mail carriers, military personnel and air traffic controllers are among the federal employees who will continue working through a government shutdown.

However, Acadia National Park, one of the state’s top attractions, will be closed during a crucial fall stretch for tourism.

If the stalemate lingers too deep into the future, U.S. courts would begin curbing hours and caseloads. Federally funded flu shot programs would not be carried out. And while federal subsidies for education would continue to be disbursed, payments for low-income housing vouchers, heating oil assistance and food supplements could be at risk.

U.S. agencies overseeing federal taxes, housing programs, energy, the environment and labor largely would drop down to emergency-only skeleton crews, absorbing the majority of the 800,000 to 1 million employee furloughs expected in the shutdown. Mainers waiting for grant allocations, program applications, reports or audits to be processed by those departments won’t receive answers until the federal budget battle is hashed out.

The Republican-led House has voted to fund government operations only if President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law is stripped of funding. The Democrat-controlled Senate has refused to undercut the Affordable Care Act — commonly called Obamacare — leaving the two chambers locked in disagreement just hours before an Oct. 1 deadline to agree on a federal budget or continuing resolution that would pay for federal services.

If no compromise is reached, it would represent the 17th federal government shutdown since 1976, with the longest — and most recent — of those coming during a 21-day political standoff in 1995.

Unless a last-minute agreement is reached in Congress, Acadia National Park will shut down completely Tuesday — for the first time since the 1995 federal government shutdown.

“The park will be forced to close,” Len Bobinchock, deputy superintendent of Acadia National Park, said Monday. “We have no choice in the matter.”

But unlike the 1995 shutdown, which happened in November, a shutdown in October likely would significantly affect the economy of Mount Desert Island, where the vast majority of the park is located. The island’s fall tourism business has increased markedly since the early 1990s, especially Bar Harbor’s cruise ship business, which has gone from a couple dozen visits each year to more than 100.

Chris Fogg, executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce, said that 41 cruise ship visits are scheduled for Bar Harbor in October. Cruise ship passengers routinely are taken on bus tours through the park, including to the top of Cadillac Mountain, when they are in port.

If the park is shut down, all roads will be gated or barricaded, all restrooms and campgrounds in the park will be closed and emergency-response staffing will be kept to a minimum.

“We’re very concerned about a government shutdown,” said Fogg, who added that area shops, restaurants and other attractions still could keep tourists busy. “We hope that people still come.”

In addition to the national parks, federal agencies to be hit hardest by the government shutdown likely will be the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Labor.

“Our services will still go on, but if there’s a company or somebody who needs a permit from EPA, that will obviously be put on hold,” said Jessamine Logan, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “We of course do have some contacts for essential EPA staff in the case of an environmental emergency, but any type of administrative processing will be put on hold.”

The Washington Post reported that the Department of Health and Human Services would put holds on grants for substance abuse and child service programs, would have diminished capacity to respond to an outbreak and likely would have to skip its annual flu shot rollout.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that while funding for the school lunch program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP, formerly food stamps — would continue under a government shutdown, no money would be available to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known by the acronym WIC.

WIC provides assistance to low-income mothers and children determined to be a “nutrition risk.” In Maine, about 26,000 people benefit from the WIC program each year, receiving nearly $13 million in annual aid.

If the budget standoff lingers, federal courts in Portland and Bangor also will begin to see effects. Court operations would continue without changes until Oct. 15, U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock told the Bangor Daily News.

“After that … the District of Maine would explore ways to cut back its operations, including, for example, restricting the processing of civil actions, limiting the hours of court personnel, particularly purely administrative employees, and analyzing court operations to find ways to minimize expenses in order to have the least impact on the public we serve,” he said.

Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the Maine State Housing Authority, said without a federal budget or continuing resolution in place, state and local agencies would not know how much in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — or LIHEAP — funding will be made available for the start of the new fiscal year Tuesday. Disbursal of heating oil payments would be jeopardized if Congress doesn’t agree on a funding plan by November, when MaineHousing is scheduled to begin cutting checks to oil dealers on behalf of their low-income clients, Turcotte said.

Turcotte told the BDN MaineHousing received just less than $35 million in LIHEAP funds for the fiscal year ending Monday and distributed money to approximately 55,000 qualifying Maine households.

She said the fiscal year for low-income Section 8 housing vouchers lasts until Dec. 31, so funding should be available to cover that program for another three months, but if the congressional deadlock continues into 2014, those payments could be cut off as well.

Shipyard workers to report to work Tuesday

KITTERY (AP) — Thousands of workers are being told to report to duty Tuesday at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, even if the federal government shuts down.

In Washington, a budget dispute over President Barack Obama's signature health care law could lead to the first government shutdown in 17 years at midnight.

But the Navy says the shipyard's 4,700 civilian workers due to report to duty Tuesday should do so, regardless of whether government is closed. The Navy is advising workers that they will be told after their arrival Tuesday whether they'll be working or going home.

Bath Iron Works is a private business that wouldn't be immediately impacted.

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JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

If Bachmann is happy, you know they frucked it up big time

A shutdown would do measurable economic damage. A shutdown would itself potentially cost billions of dollars—money lit on fire in order to fuel tea party Republicans' personal egos. A shutdown would set the stage for further skepticism as to whether the United States is still a reliable payer of its own debts. There's no upside to it. It's an extremist move for the sake of extremism, a threat to shoot a hostage simply because it's been too long since a hostage has been shot.

And yet they can't stop themselves. They're that far gone.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Dear SM,

The government is only 18% unfunded, your scare tactics are transparent to all readers.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Dear DA,

Obviously with your sick infatuation with only the government, your small mind cannot fathom the bigger picture that it is more than the government that is affected. You can't see the forest with the trees in the way. Your mental focus of the big bad government is as transparent for all to see your obsession. They have meds for your illness.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Look closer

It appears your wife's nose has been sliding thru it...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Well, just like Obamacare,

Well, just like Obamacare, the best laid plan don't always turn out well. The image was supposed to be much smaller.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

SM, When trees are too thick


When trees are too thick to see the forest, then we need to thin out a few trees. In this case, thin out the government.

Moreover, that is a common, deadhead response.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Yep you are a dead head

There is more to all this that affects more than the government, cutting those trees will still not make you see clearly, but being the DA that you are, I can see your shortcomings.

No good news for GOP....

New York Times:

By Tuesday morning, the leadership failure of Speaker John Boehner was complete. In encouraging the impossible quest of House Republicans to dismantle health care reform, he pushed the country into a government shutdown that will now begin to take a grievous economic toll.
Washington Post:

Americans' respect for their Congress has, sad to say, diminished in recent years. But citizens still expect a minimal level of competence and responsibility: Pay the bills and try not to embarrass us in front of the world.
By those minimal standards, this Congress is failing. More specifically, the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are failing. They should fulfill their basic duties to the American people or make way for legislators who will.

Chicago Tribune:

We're debt hawks. The unconscionable failure of Democrats and Republicans to deal with the growth of entitlement spending that has fueled the nearly $17 trillion in federal debt creates its own economic peril. The most frustrating thing is that a resolution of this impasse almost certainly won't deal with that entitlement crisis.
LA Times:

The GOP's clear objective is to dismantle the act, not to improve it — and the single-minded focus on that goal is what has led to the partial government shutdown that began Tuesday. Democrats can hardly be blamed for refusing to bargain over how to sabotage the law before it fully takes effect.
Chicago Sun-Times:

The federal government is partially shut down because an extreme faction of House Republicans is using its leverage to try to derail the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
New York Daily News:

The elderly veterans who stormed the closed World War II Memorial in Washington on Tuesday showed more class, sense and spine than all of the Republicans who led Congress into shutting down the federal government.
New York Post:

Today the ObamaCare health exchanges go up. Meanwhile, the federal government appears to be shutting down. Once again, Washington’s got it completely backward.
We’ve long been skeptical of the defunding strategy, for one reason: Republicans don’t have the votes in the Senate.

Denver Post:

Incredibly, Republican hard-liners have triggered a shutdown in pursuit of a hopeless quest to delay or even defund the Affordable Care Act.
This is a battle Republicans cannot win.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"The elderly veterans who

"The elderly veterans who stormed the closed World War II Memorial in Washington on Tuesday showed more class, sense and spine than all of the Republicans who led Congress into shutting down the federal government."

This part has been open 24/7 for years, which includes previous government shutdowns. I don't think it was the idea of Republicans to barricade the park.

Actually, I would like to see that person identified and publicly humiliated.

So tell the readers, who set up the barricade, which by the way cost more than to simply watch the park, better yet, just leave it unattended like it is most of the time.

Lastly, anyone who states "government shutdown" is lying. Only 18% of the government is unfunded.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Twenty percent of the

Twenty percent of the government is shutdown and life goes on unaffected in all 50 states.

Now what should we takeaway from this phenomena?

Well, the answer is abundantly clear; we can immediately shrink government by 20%.

Better living through smaller government.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

What do I think of this story?

I think you could have included the fact that John Boehner refused a vote. He would not let the house vote on this because the moderate Republicans and the Democrats would have defeated his wishes. He was outnumbered.

Also, You could have quoted Sen. Angus King:


MARK GRAVEL's picture

I support government shutdown

I support government shutdown - well technicality only 20% shutdown. It goes to show that we can shave 20% of government services to save money.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Of course you would

It is going to cost millions to billions in a week, stocks, economy, peoples wages and jobs, etc...just chump change to a DA chump like yourself...

Only a DA would spend a dollar to save a dime.....typical republican...
Money for nothing: Government shutdown costs $12.5 million per hour...


MARK GRAVEL's picture

Dear SM,

1. Stocks have not dropped more than reflected in normal day-to-day volatility.
2. Only 18% of the government is shutdown - chump.
3. The article implies lost economic activity due to lost wages, not "costing" the government additional money. Since that should be balanced with equal amount of government spending cuts, then money can be used to help close the budget deficit, which is necessary and long overdue. I call that a win-win.

Given that economic activity produced by government spending is predicated on borrowing $0.40 on a dollar, the reduction economic activity based on government spending is long overdue. Cut-Cut-Cut.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Wrong again as usual on your actuarial assumptions

Shutting down the government could cost the federal government well over $2 billion dollars if it resembles the last shutdowns in 1995-1996, though the economy would be harmed in additional ways that are nearly impossible to measure.

The Office of Management and Budget estimated that two government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, totaling 27 days, cost the federal government $1.4 billion. That's over $2 billion in today's dollars on costs like back pay to furloughed federal workers and uncollected fines and taxes. That number doesn't begin to account for intangible losses in worker morale and productivity, and confidence in the federal government.

Doug Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said a short-term shutdown will have a fairly small economic impact. The federal government spends roughly $3 billion a day in discretionary spending, so a disruption like the ones in 1995 and 1996 could wind up being roughly equivalent to the cost of keeping the government running for a day.

"A short government shutdown is not a very important event; it's a hiccup," Holtz-Eakin said. "I think the bulk of the costs are transitory and are paid back later. That's really what happens. There's some distraction costs that never go away and they're real."

So in essence it still cost the Government more time and money to get it back to what it was...meaning more time and money is wasted for business to continue for the People of the US....

Just another stupid stunt by the Teabaggers of the country, lets include the DA republicans too....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Skid to your first name Mark...SM Gravel

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Nope, according to Paul and

Nope, according to Paul and the parrot, the SM name is stuck on you....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


for me, DA and it doesn't stand for District Attorney.... Dumb A-s...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


For a DA with the name Mark....

JOANNE MOORE's picture

not a good link, sorry.

But he was quoted on Alternet if anyone is interested.

 's picture

Seems like Acadia National

Seems like Acadia National Park should be left open for the public. Lock up the buildings and leave the roads and hiking trails open. National parks belong to the people, not the politicians.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I think we should all fear the future............

OK, we have a splinter group of radical Republicans, who have shut down the overnment. Many of these Rep's came into office with shutting down the Government their only goal. They never had any intentions of legislating any laws which may have worked for the people of Maine. They have put the fear of the Coch brothers into another pretty good chunk of representatives. They are threatened with opposition in the primaries. What the Tea Party is saying is, you will do things our way or you will lose your seat come the midterms.
This bothers me on two fronts. One, just who will the tea Party pick to defeat uncooperative incumbents? This person will be an elected official. Are the voters in the districts in question that stupid, to let one small group of radicals dictate the outcomes?
My other complaint in all of this, what ever happened to Representatives representing the people who put them in office. This has turned into great big game. A game played by a select group of very well dressed good ol boy's. The more uneducated an interviewee sounds, the stronger the southern accent. Don't call me prejudice of Southerners, I'm just stating fact. It's been all over the news now for weeks. If I may point out an example, how about Ted Cruz. I rest my case..........

Jim Cyr's picture

Radical Republicans ??

No more "RADICAL" than our " Founding Fathers ". Free Markets, small government, limited central government, etc, etc, etc,. Who ever these " Radicals " are, were they not elected under a "Representative" government ??

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I'm not even going to touch that one.............

Please don't tell me your going to defend Ted Cruz and company

Jim Cyr's picture

Please don't tell

me your going to continue to defend the Anti-Constitutionalist/Progressives and company ??

JOANNE MOORE's picture

The Founding Fathers, on the other hand....

......were not neo-fascists like the John Bonehead gang.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

When the last shutdown took

When the last shutdown took place Clinton and Gingrich spent hours upon hours face to face trying to hammer out a solution.
How many hours did oBAMa spend with Boener in an attempt to solve the problem?



The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Those folks waving the Constitution around are obstructing the law. If we do that we get arrested. When the law is wrong the constitution provides ways to change it. Our forefathers did not provide for people who lose an election shutting down the government to reverse the results of an election. I think they thought Americans would have more respect for representative government than that. This happened because of gerrymandering. The 80 house members who shut down the government are in safe districts. Those districts are so stupid that when the Affordable Care Act is explained to them they poll in favor of it while being rabidly against Obamacare. I will say this, when the law is implemented and becomes as popular as Social Security they will not be calling it Obamacare any more.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Have you ever visited my

Have you ever visited my Unicorn Farm, Claire?

Thomas Hamilton's picture

In the words of Robert Reich

In the words of Robert Reich as quoted in the New York Times: ??What is the proper term for those who are determined to get their way by threatening to otherwise close our government or default on our nation's debts? They are not legislators because they eschew the normal processes of legislation. They are not statesmen because they are willing to sacrifice the governing institutions of our nation. They are not leaders because they cower to a fanatical minority. They have chosen instead to get their way through extortion -- holding the United States hostage to their weapons of mass economic destruction. What, then, are they? Would it be unfair to consider them traitors?

Jason Theriault's picture

Bad move, GOP

The merits of the ACA aside, this is a bad move by the GOP. Polls shows most people disagree with tieing the continuing resolution to defunding/delay the ACA. And Polls also show that Republicans will bear most of the blame.

Now, if this had a chance of succeeding, then it might be worth the fallout to the right, but it wont. The Senate can read the polls, and they know that the pressure will be building on the house to accept the clean CR. Hell, reports coming out of the house is that there is a solid contingent willing to pass the clear CR. So it's clear that the House will buckle first.

So the right is going to take a beating and get nothing for it. And the longer this lasts, the more of a beating the GOP will take. It would take a massive beating for the Senate to take the House, but I think this puts any hope of taking the Senate out of reach.

 's picture

democrats in 2013: Obamacare

democrats in 2013: Obamacare is the law of the land so accept it.
democrats in 1859: Slavery is the law of the land so accept it.
democrats in 1892: Separate but equal is the law of the land so accept it.
democrats in 1944: Korematsu v. U.S. is the law of the land so accept it.
democrats in 1962: discrimination against blacks is the law of the land so accept it.

Jason Theriault's picture


You know, you just compared the Affordable Care Act to Slavery, segregation, Japanese internment and civil rights....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Are you saying forcing people

Are you saying forcing people to buy something they don't want is not a form of slavery? If not, then it's outright extortion.
That's a really cool picture, by the way.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

They all look the same to me

They all look the same to me - bad Democrat legislation; they are all the same - bad.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The Federal shutdown will

The Federal shutdown will have little effect nationally. In my opinion, the shutdown will show that we can live and function with a much smaller government.

 's picture

Its not about Republican's and Democrate's its about American's

It never fail's it really should not matter if they are democrat's or republican's what should matter is that they are all American's let's try and act like that is who they are actually concerned about. This is suppose to be for the good of the American people I will be honest and say I would love to be able to afford Health Care but how I will is beyond me. But I am willing to wait and see what happens without casting blame. So maybe if our elected officials could do that we could get something done.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Time T-zero minus one, you

Time T-zero minus one, you cannot afford healthcare.

Time T-zero, you can afford healthcare.

Time T-zero plus one, who is paying the difference in cost for you?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Pew Research Center Sept 19-22

1003 Adults"As you may know, Republicans in the House of Representatives have said that funding for the 2010 health care law must be cut off as part of any budget agreement.
Do you support or oppose this proposal?"

38% favor eliminating funding
44%oppose eliminating funding
18% Unsure
Kaiser Family Foundation Sept 12-18
1502 adults" Some lawmakers who oppose the health reform law say that if Congress isn't able to repeal the law, they should try to stop it from being put into place by cutting off funding to implement it.
Whether or not you like the health reform law. Would you say you approve or disapprove of cutting off funding as a way to stop some or all of the health reform from being put into place?"
37% approve funding cut off
56% disapprove funding cut off
7% Unsure.

-----Bottom Line...

Republicans are going down the drain in one huge vortex......

Claudette Therriault's picture

Yes. The GOP in Congress are

Yes. The GOP in Congress are going down. They are stubborn, heartless people who don't care about anything but defunding Obamacare and they don't care who is hurt in the process of defunding or the government shutdown.

I hope that no Republican supporters own Section 8 properties. We'll see how loyal you are to the GOP when Section 8 runs out of funding!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Numbers don't lie just Republicans

Shutting down the Federal Govt to stop health care law
Quinnipiac University Poll
Support 22%
Oppose 72%


Opinion of Republicans in Congress
Approve 17%
Disapprove 74%


Kids on the Hill

Say Republicans in Congress acting like spoiled children.

I would add, Drunks on the Hill...

YEPPER, the chairs on the Titanic are shifting and the Republicans and Teabaggers are going down to the dark abyss in 2014.....

I don't think so , dingbat

I don't think so , dingbat

JOANNE MOORE's picture

That's the problem, Dennis.

You don't think. The house wanted to vote on this before the shutdown. John Bonehead would not allow a vote because he knew there were enough moderate Republicans along with the Democrats who would have voted against his neo-fascist adgenda. Back at ya, Bub.

Well Bub the only neo-fascist

Well Bub the only neo-fascist in Washington are the ones trying to destroy freedom. Obamcare isn't freedom, it's far from it. Your side may win, but if it does America looses. Obama said he was going to transform America, soon we will be a banana republic if he continues.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Ok Dennis

You keep those insults on Democrats...I am compiling all of those to send to Norway and lets see how many people want a DINGBAT for doing any business with on electronics....

I get along with everyone

I get along with everyone including Democrats. Only a few are nutty dingbats like you.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The government, SM's world,

The government, SM's world, shutdown and no one blinks. Goes to show how trivial government really is.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Teabaggers are going to get the boot. licking because their nuts

Government Shutdown Blame Would Fall On Republicans, GOP Seen As 'Spoiled Children': Poll


If the federal government shuts down starting Tuesday because of a bitter partisan battle over the new health care law, more people say congressional Republicans rather than President Barack Obama would be responsible, according to a new national survey.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I'm sure most good liberals

I'm sure most good liberals will make that claim. The shutdown will only demonstrate the trivial nature of large government. Life will go on for must of us unabated by the shutdown.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Yup. Life goes on but.......

..........just ask Newt Gingrich about how wise it is to shut down the federal government. He may have a ranting spot on Fox once in a while but he couldn't run and win for dog catcher. He is a has-been. A joke. I predict the same for John Bonehead.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The government is officially

The government is officially shutdown, yet the world still turns. Perhaps we can cut these nonessential employees.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

the new federal health-care law

It is law, and these stupid fools think they can defund or delay a law, just because they don't like it...lets see what else shall we defund and delay!

But Romney Care was OK, since it was a repub that did that one...

They didn't like Clinton and now Obama, and they will always defy a Democratic President. Besides they'll want to delay it now and then again and again and they will never stop, so just vote the SOB's out and lets get the peoples business done so growth and prosperity will return to the S.

It is going to be sweet to see these morons going out the door and down the road in 2014

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If it being ACA, yes it is

If it being ACA, yes it is the law, but if it is the law, why can Obama grant so many exceptions to the law? Is it the law or is it not?

Moreover, the house does have powers of the purse, so they can allocate as much revenue to it in a budget proposals as it sees necessary.

 's picture


Other than the fact the ACA is not funded through the normal budgeting process, you may have a point.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I thing you better look at

I thing you better look at your facts again. Money has already been spent out of the general fund on ObummaCare. All those salaries paid to the enforcing bodies, like the IRS. All the money spent on "navigators", ACA advertisements, and exchanges.

Where did all that money come from - Wrenn's fairy?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Most of the money spent for

Most of the money spent for 'navigators' went to ACORN and the SEIU. There are no 'exchanges', but simply faceless websites that don't work.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Don't forget the IRS got

Don't forget the IRS got money too for which it misplaced $67 Million of it.

 's picture


The major parts of the ACA fall under mandatory funding and are not subject to the annual budget process.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If that is the case, then

If that is the case, then both Senate Democrats and the President should not have any problem signing the recent compromise from the House of Representatives - right?

 's picture


What the tea todlers are demanding is not compromise, it is ransom.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You ignored my question. If

You ignored my question. If the House of Representatives cannot control ACA funding, as you imply, why don't Democrats compromise by agreeing to delay enforcement 1 year?

Claudette Therriault's picture

Duh! Because Democrats have a

Duh! Because Democrats have a heart and care about the people they represent.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Are you talking about the

Are you talking about the same people obama exempted from participation in the ACA like members of Congress, their staffs and families, and unions?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

John Fund and Hannity filled your head with junk, that was easy.

Of all the many gripes and complaints directed my way when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, the one that appears to tick people off the most is a widespread belief that Congress has carved out some exemptions for themselves that provide our elected representatives with cushy health insurance benefits while the rest of us are left to experience diminishing coverage from employers or, come 2014, enter the unknown world of state run health insurance exchanges.

I certainly understand why people believe that this injustice is taking place right under their noses. Conservative media has told them repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, that this is the trick being played on them by the privileged and powerful.

It’s a great story – but it certainly is not the true story.

Indeed, you may be surprised to learn that once the lion’s share of the ACA kicks in on January 1, 2014, not only are Members of Congress and their staff obligated to play by the same rules as the rest of us, they will actually be required to follow a more restrictive path to their health insurance than you and I.

The false narrative suggesting that Congress gave themselves a special deal appears to have begun with John Fund of the Wall Street Journal who wrote,

As the U.S. Office of Personnel Management notes, Members of Congress “enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country.” According to page 114 of the Kennedy bill, a similar array of choices would not be available to other Americans in the future. Instead, they would be shunted into health insurance plans under the straightjacket of whatever the government decides is a “basic” plan.

The goal would be to restrict care for the general public in order to control costs, while making sure Congress gets the gold-plated attention it’s accustomed to. Ultimately, the rest of us would be asked to trade a private insurance company as gatekeeper for a government gatekeeper. The difference, of course, is that most of us can fire our insurance gatekeeper. Just try to do that once the government fills that role.

This line of bull was peddled to an even larger audience by Sean Hannity, a man who never met a fact that he wasn’t willing to ignore while making up a new one to better suit his purpose. During Hannity’s Fox News program of March 24, 2010, Hannity stated, without reservation, that that Members of Congress and their staff were exempt from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

So, here’s the real deal –As things currently stand, Members of Congress and their staff, until 2014, will continue to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). This program, considered among the best in the nation, allows federal employees- including Members of Congress and their staff- to choose from a wide range of health plans and select the one that best suits their needs. Note that the current plan is neither ‘government’ insurance, ‘free’ insurance nor any other sort of sweet deal that the public has been led to believe is the case. The federal employee’s program involves private insurance policies with premiums, deductibles, co-pays, etc.

Here’s the surprise – come 2014, when the lion’s share of the ACA provisions come on line, Members of Congress and their staff will be required to buy their health insurance on an exchange. In fact, their choices will be even more limited than our own. While it is expected that some 24 million people will elect to purchase their health care policy on a state run exchange, we are not required by law to do so. Members of Congress and their staff, however, must buy their insurance in this way.


MARK GRAVEL's picture

Doesn't Congress get a 75%

Doesn't Congress get a 75% stipend to purchase healthcare?

Can they not use this money to seek healthcare insurance outside the exchanges?

They can no longer avail themselves of FEHBP, but there is no law stating they MUST purchase from the exchange. While that is an option, they can seek healthcare outside of the exchange. What is to prevent them?

Claudette Therriault's picture

Thank you Jerry for

Thank you Jerry for clarification of all the stories going around. It is appreciated.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Anytime, to get them in their place

Since they love to throw out twisted unfactual talking points spin from pundits.

They are like a sewer database with no structure to maintain clean facts.

They are the typical garbage in, garbage out party, with no facts, just hot air that is usually from some other hot mouth dirt bag conservative pundit.

Just like Paul with his unicorn farm, he even admits he has one.....8>)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Mr. Aripez will be pleased to

Mr. Aripez will be pleased to note that attendance at the farm by liberals is up 85% over last year. Must be since they found out that ACA covers deductible free Kool-Aid shots.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Dear SM, I agree with your

Dear SM,

I agree with your characterization of liberals; they do do the things you say.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Time will tell. Meanwhile,

Time will tell. Meanwhile, the rhetoric will continue.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Time will tell if the parrot

Time will tell if the parrot has prostrate cancer, but will it be too late when he finds out?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot? No prostate, no

The parrot? No prostate, no balls and a brain the size of a pimple on a gnat's butt. But, he keeps the place free of flies.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

PS.... I don't listen to

I don't listen to Hannity; never have.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Who is Hannity? Is he or

Who is Hannity?

Is he or she on NPR?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hannity is a conservative

Hannity is a conservative pundit. He is as unlikely to be on NPR as Nancy Pelosi is of being an anchor babe on Fox and Friends.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Reading skills and comprehension elude you....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Dear SM, Well, if Paul says

Dear SM,

Well, if Paul says he never "listened" to Hannity, I assume communication is auditory, not text. Hence, your comment does not make sense.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You cannot get more partisan

You cannot get more partisan than that statement now can you?

Jim Cyr's picture

Duh !Because Democrats have a

"heart" just lacking in the brain department.



Republicans will try hard to spin this as a shutdown caused by Democrats but this issue was debated for a year and voted on. We had two national elections about it and the Supreme Court has ruled on it. The House has sent this same proposal to the senate 40 times only to have it rejected each time. Now they are trying a Hail Mary pass to defeat the will of the people. Taking hostages is what terrorists do. The government does not negotiate with terrorists and they should not negotiate with this small Republican Caucus which represents a small minority of Americans most of which are rural, white, elderly and poorly educated and not representative of the American people as a whole most of whom have had it up to here with the dysfunction in Washington. As for Obama, so far he is not involved. This is all in Congress' court.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You've nailed it right on the

You've nailed it right on the noggin, Claire. The legislative body of our government is completely dis-unified and in a complete shambles, and the president of the United States is not involved. How sick is that? oBAMa is making Clinton and Carter look like statesmen.

 's picture

"rural, white, elderly and

"rural, white, elderly and poorly educated and not representative of the American people as a whole."

that sounds like Pingree and Michaud's districts. Oh wait, they are democrats. nevermind.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The house has the power of

The house has the power of the purse-strings, it should force the Senate to negotiate.

Now would you call the Democrats terrorist if the roles were reversed? I think not, you would defined the Democrats for standing up for what you see is right. Well, welcome to the two-way street.

Perhaps you should think twice about calling the opposing party terrorists, especially when your world is colored jade.

"Give us everything we want

"Give us everything we want or give us nothing" is not negotiating. It's bullying.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Delaying ObummaCare for

Delaying ObummaCare for everyone, not just a select few, sounds like a reasonable compromise.

Asking Congress and the President to participate in ObummaCare sounds like a reasonable compromise.

What have the Democrats offered up on the table during negotiations - ZERO, NOTHING.... Now who is not negotiating? Remind the readers please.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

They can't delay it for

They can't delay it for everyone for a year. The dems are scared to death of that for fear that it would never survive that long a delay. They know that if they don't push everything through now while the minions remain unsuspecting and clueless, oBAMaCare is doomed. It's doomed anyway, but it's going to take some time for that to prove itself. The ultimate result will be single payer healthcare with the government managing and controlling everything.

That's not the problem

It's not a matter of survival. It's a matter of blackmail and precedent. If they get away with it this year, they're try again next year and every year until they get what they really want. And then when the tables are turned, who's going to scream bloody murder when the other side decides to use the same tactic on a law THEY don't like because it worked so well for this side. And so it becomes just another tool in the political toolbox for both parties that separates them even further from the real world outside the beltway, and perpetually holds the rest of the country in suspense while they play their games of thrones. More and more it's becoming less about governing and more about power -- pure power that is a means and an end in itself.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Agreed. It's been building

Agreed. It's been building for 20 years and we are witnessing it in full manifestation.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The fact is that I and others

The fact is that I and others of the same mind set are damn sick and tired of being slaves to the government. It is time to cut a few heads of the monster.

Gotta be careful of "throw

Gotta be careful of "throw the bums out" mentality. Throw the bums out, and chances are good that the bums you replace them with are going to be worse. I've seen it happen in a smaller scale when I was in Virginia. In the 90s, the Richmon City Council were terrible. Corrupt, constantly fighting, never got anything done. So the good people of the city rose up and replaced 7 out of 9 councillors. Big mistake. The new council fought more, did less, and were twice as corrupt as the previous Council. It was like watching the Rumford Board of Selectmen on steroids.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I advocate hitting them where

I advocate hitting them where it hurts the most - decrease the revenue they control. Demote them mere figure heads with no real power.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The 'monster' appears to have

The 'monster' appears to have lost site of its intended mission; to WORK for the American people, not RULE them.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Precisely way we need to put

Precisely way we need to put the monster in its place. However, that may be a challenge given the number of leech attached to the host. That is okay, we'll salt the leeches too in the process.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The scythe of justice has no

The scythe of justice has no conscience?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

way -- why

way -- why

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Once again of course your spin is making you dizzy and nauseous

Earlier this year, Mr. Obama tried to entice Republicans back to the table with a budget offer to reduce the cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, precisely the kind of entitlement cut Republicans like to demand in front of the cameras. (Democrats hated the idea.) But almost immediately, Republicans began trashing the concept, saying it was a “shocking attack on seniors.” The House budget chairman, Paul Ryan, said there could be no grand bargain if Mr. Obama insisted on tax increases for the rich. Again, no negotiation.

A look at the widespread effects of the federal shutdown by members of the editorial board.
Read Articles »
Over the rest of the year, Republicans repeatedly refused to agree to a conference committee with Senate Democrats. Why? Senators Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz said a committee might agree to even some of the Democratic proposals on tax and revenue increases.

The Republican position has been clear for three years: they will refuse to negotiate if negotiation could mean having to give something up. But they will loudly demand a negotiation over something that is not open to compromise, namely a settled law from 2009 they disagree with because it will show the necessity of government’s role in making health insurance available to all. A fanatic’s definition of compromise is when only the other side must give in.


MARK GRAVEL's picture

Good .!..



PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Excellent point.

Excellent point.

The GOP is not proposing a

The GOP is not proposing a government shut down, Obama, Reid and Pelosi are.
They are getting their talking points ready , for the main stream media to push.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I say, let's see a shutdown,

I say, let's see a shutdown, so Americans can see that the world moves along just fine without large government.

You're as delusional as they

You're as delusional as they are. Go ahead, yawn. Prove you have no actual argument, only baseless ideology dictated by your intellectual betters.

 's picture


What a laugher!

The GOP is not proposing a

The GOP is not proposing a government shut down, Obama, Reid and Pelosi are.
They are getting their talking points ready , for the main stream media to push.


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