East Texans weigh in on government shutdown

Published on Tuesday, 8 October 2013 19:52 - Written by DAYNA WORCHEL dworchel@tylerpaper.com

While some Tylerites say they are not yet personally affected by the federal government shutdown — now entering its ninth day — they expressed frustration with the inability of Congress and President Barack Obama to find a solution to the problem.

Farah Kirkland is a nurse who declined to give her age. As she played pool at the Tyler Senior Center on Tuesday, she said she was not personally affected by the shutdown. But she thought the average person sometimes depends on the federal government a little too much to fix their problems.

“If we start serving each other, things will get better — we just have to trust that things will get better,” she said.

Cathy Hirt, President of the TA&T Finance Corp. on W. Erwin St., said Congress should forego the same pay they are denying to the furloughed federal workers.

“The representatives and senators need to be more responsible for the good of the country,” she said.

Some lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, have said they would donate their own pay to charity since federal workers would not be paid during the furloughs.

The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, may be facing some “messy times” after Oct. 15 if federal funding is not restored, Dave Maland, Clerk of the Federal Court on Ferguson Street, said Tuesday. U.S. Judge Leonard Davis entered a general order on Tuesday morning that called all the federal employees there essential, and thus the federal dockets must continue to operate.

“The court can self-fund for a couple of days (after Oct. 15),” Maland said.

Money from fees collected by the federal bankruptcy courts will help, he said. But the deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling is Oct. 17 — the day the federal government will exhaust its ability to borrow funds to pay its bills.

“We are anxious for it to be resolved,” Maland said Tuesday.

A call, which was placed to the regional spokesperson in the Dallas Social Security office to see if disability or other social security payments would be affected, yielded a recording saying no one was available to speak because of the government shutdown.

A long-running dispute in Washington, D.C., over President Obama’s health care law caused a deadlock over the U.S. budget, forcing about 800,000 federal workers off the job on Oct. 1 and suspending all but essential services. With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democratic-controlled Senate locked in a stalemate, it was unclear how long a temporary bill needed to finance government activities would be stalled.

Stocks fell significantly — the Dow Jones average by 159 points — as political gridlock endured on Tuesday. And, in the latest in a string of dire warnings, the International Monetary Fund said failure to raise America’s debt limit could lead to default and disrupt worldwide financial markets, raise interest rates and push the U.S economy back into recession.

Laurie Maddox, wife of Maddox Air Conditioning owner Tom Maddox, works in the company’s front office. She said the company had received some checks from the officials at the federal courthouse that were dated Oct. 2, and that she was surprised because she thought the shutdown began Oct. 1.

“Other than that, there have been no other affects business-wide,” Mrs. Maddox said.

One young Chief Executive Officer at SharpLine Shipping, Thomas Blankennagel, 17, said he was particularly distressed about the closing down of the World War II monument in Washington, D.C., and how some federal lawmakers had to personally escort veterans to see the monument.

“My family is upset (at the shutdown) although it hasn’t affected me personally,” he said.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.