Federal shutdown hits Maine hard, and things could get worse

Kevin Bennett | BDN

I’ve been surprised by the number of people I know personally who have been significantly affected by the federal government shutdown caused by House Republicans’ attempt to gut the Affordable Care Act and the many ways in which it has seriously inconvenienced their lives.

One friend can’t open his new small brewery for the lack of a single regulator’s signature. Another friend’s grandfather died and their family had to hold his funeral without an honor guard firing three rifle volleys they know he would have wanted as a proud veteran. Some equipment essential to the business of another friend broke and they can’t access an SBA loan to replace it. Yet another friend’s mom was laid off from the Social Security Disability Determination Office in Winthrop.

Now, I have some facts to back up those anecdotes. Personal finance site WalletHub ranked the 50 states and Washington D.C. by how hard they’re being hit by the shutdown, based on a number of factors including small business loans, federal contracting dollars and veteran populations per capita. Maine came in at #5. The huffington Post also put together an infographic of the results.

See the Bangor Daily News editorial on the study for more.

One thing they don’t mention, however, is that things could get even worse for Maine.

If Republicans prolong the shutdown and continue their hostage taking tactics with the federal debt ceiling, it could cause not just a worldwide economic collapse, but very specific damage to our state. First on the chopping block, along with the nation’s international credit obligations, would be Social Security and veterans benefit payments and Maine has more veterans and residents on Social Security than just about any other state in the country.

What’s worse, Republican House members, including Paul Ryan, have now added permanent cuts to Social Security and Medicare to their list of demands for releasing their hostages.

The most ridiculous part of this whole thing is that none of it is necessary. Enough Republicans in the House have now confirmed that they would join Democrats in voting for a clean Continuing Resolution to fund the government, ending the crisis immediately. If only the tea-party-controlled House leadership would allow a vote.

Mike Tipping

About Mike Tipping

Mike writes about Maine politics and policy with a focus on analysis and explanation. He works at the Maine People's Alliance and Maine People's Resource Center, writes a political column for the Portland Press Herald