The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 13, 2013

Shutdown driving debate over role of government

WASHINGTON — The lingering federal shutdown is transforming a musty debate over the role of government in America into a coast-to-coast, prime-time reality show.

With landmarks closed, paychecks delayed and workers furloughed, Americans are drawing dueling lessons from the rippling effects of the partial shutdown: The disruptions show that the feds are way too involved in people's lives or that the government does a lot of vital things that people take for granted.

There's a messaging war underway to see which viewpoint will prevail. But any shift in public opinion also may well hinge on how much, or how little, people are personally affected as the shutdown drags on.

"It definitely has brought to life what's going on," says Pamela Jones, a lawyer from Richmond, Calif., who's noticing the shutdown's effects all around her, in closed national parks, disrupted weddings, shuttered restaurants and "life moments and events destroyed."

Jones, 54, a Democrat and fiscal conservative, finds herself torn in the too-much, too-little debate over the federal government, and says the shutdown at least is giving "more information to the common man, so to speak."

Jim Chenye, a former marketing manager in Birmingham, Ala., sees no argument for the importance of government in the shutdown's rippling effects.

"I'm never an advocate of a larger federal government," says Chenye, 64, a Republican. The shutdown and debt ceiling debate show the government's broken, Chenye says, but he figures the annoyances of the moment will be long forgotten before people vote in the 2016 elections.

Politicians of all stripes are trying to use the shutdown to buttress long-held positions on the role of the federal government.

Arguing for an activist government, President Barack Obama talks up the plight of hard-working federal workers and the importance of government loans to farmers and small businesses. He laments the shuttered monuments and locked offices, the benefit checks delayed, the veterans awaiting help, the little kids who've "been sent home from the safe places where they learn and grow every single day."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Bills aim to improve English language instruction English language learners integrated into mainstream classrooms

    April 24, 2014

  • Allina drops celebrated birthing option MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Allina Health has pulled the drain plug on a celebrated birthing option at its 11 Minnesota hospitals and the Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis. Allina says it will no longer offer water births because of new guidance from the Ame

    April 24, 2014

  • Federal study finds mercury in trout caught in three Grand Canyon creeks PHOENIX — With their natural beauty and protected environments, the Grand Canyon and other national parks in the West would seem removed from having mercury in their streams and rivers. But a federal study found small levels of the contaminant in ra

    April 24, 2014

  • Post office sales fight grows SAN FRANCISCO — The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has issued a report to Congress that criticizes the U.S. Postal Service’s disposal of historic properties and calls for a suspension of all sales until a host of recommendations are implem

    April 24, 2014

  • Lawmakers jockey over budget surpluses WASHINGTON — Less than 24 hours after the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team beat cross-state rival Louisville to advance to the Sweet 16, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray asked state lawmakers for $80 million to renovate Rupp Arena, the iconic bui

    April 23, 2014

  • Minn. lawmakers seek to enhance privacy protection ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers are on the verge of cracking down on public employees who abuse their access to citizen data. A measure being negotiated in a House-Senate conference committee would do more to expose and punish data snoope

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage LAS VEGAS (AP) — As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger vot

    April 23, 2014

  • mfp church abuse Archbishop deposition on abuse made public Archbishop John Nienstedt says no one reprimanded who handled abuse

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Legislature takes aim at new lottery games Legislators angry lottery didn't tell of new games

    April 22, 2014

  • NE ski resort extends season Lutsen still has two to four feet of snow on its runs

    April 22, 2014