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2013年10月 4日 (金)

米政府一部停止 早期の混乱収拾へ妥協を探れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun October 4, 2013
Republicans, democrats should seek compromise to solve budget standoff
米政府一部停止 早期の混乱収拾へ妥協を探れ(10月3日付・読売社説)

It is uncertain whether the current confusion can be resolved anytime soon.

Due to the showdown between the Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, the budget for the 2014 fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1 has failed to pass into law, suspending some U.S. federal government functions.

Although such key functions as national defense and airport operations continue to operate, about 800,000 federal employees have been forced to stay home, shutting down national museums and parks. This is an unusual situation and the first such shutdown since 1996.

Meanwhile, stock prices have been fluctuating on the New York stock exchange recently, while in the currency market, the yen has been on the rise against the U.S. dollar. The market apparently has been reacting negatively to the standoff, while being wary of a protracted standoff.

The current situation has been brought about by the “divided Congress,” with the Senate controlled by Democrats and the House controlled by Republicans, with politics straying off course.

The Senate recently approved a provisional spending bill that includes funding for a health care overhaul, which U.S. President Barack Obama is promoting as his top priority.

On the other hand, the House opposed the bill and instead passed another provisional spending bill that would postpone the implemen-tation of Obamacare. Both the Senate and the House failed to iron out their differences, causing the congressional stalemate.

In the United States, where there is no nationwide comprehensive health insurance system, one in every six people is said to be uninsured. The health care program reform bill, designed to correct such a situation, was passed into law in 2010 amid divided views on the bill.

Obama firm on health care

This issue became a point of contention during the U.S. presidential election in the autumn of 2012, when Obama won his second term.

At the stage when related policies are to be implemented on the basis of the reform law, Republican hardliners have come out rehashing the issue again. It is quite reasonable that Obama has declared openly that he will not succumb to such a threat from the Republicans.

Yet a shadow has fallen on the political leadership of Obama, as has been seen in his taking a cautious course over whether the United States should take military actions against Syria.

Worrisome is the possibility that the showdown between Republicans and Democrats in Congress may also have an adverse impact on the issue of raising the federal debt limit, the deadline for which is Oct. 17.

The debt of the federal government has nearly reached the $16.7 trillion (or about ¥1.63 quadrillion) limit set by law.

If the Republicans and Democrats in Congress do not agree on an extension of the debt ceiling, the federal government will be unable to issue additional government bonds, while making it ever more likely for an unprecedented default on U.S. debt to occur, whereby the government will become unable to redeem national bonds or pay interests on the bonds.

In the summer of 2011, the credit rating of the U.S. government’s bonds was downgraded over the debt ceiling issue, sending the financial markets into disarray. Repetition of such a situation should be avoided.

The U.S. economy is only halfway to making a full-fledged recovery. We need to keep an eye on whether the political paralysis in the United States will throw cold water on the incipient economic recovery, having adverse impacts on the Japanese and even the global economy.

Both the Republicans and Democrats in Congress should be held accountable for this latest development. By exploring a compro-mise, they are accountable for this latest development.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 3, 2013)
(2013年10月3日01時30分  読売新聞)


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