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    US Government shutdown: Washington's ineptitude forces budget crisis

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    Government shutdown 2013: After months of debate and brinkmanship, the US Congress has failed to pass a bill that authorises passage of the federal budget for the next fiscal year, triggering the first federal spending shutdown in 17 years.

    Channeling Newt Gingrich in 1995, Republican House Speaker John Boehner stymied the budget bill, cutting off hundreds of billions of dollars in spending — a move likely to hurt both sides politically.

    Yet, unlike the previous Republican-triggered shutdown, which had at its core a dispute over federal spending, this week's shutdown is the outcome of one side of politics wielding Congressional authority in one domain as a tool to affect change in another, namely forcing President Obama to roll back his flagship domestic policy: the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare.

    One element of the new law is a 2.3% tax on some medical devices. A bill passed by the Senate providing for the new tax was rejected by the House. It demanded the bill be stripped of the tax and the Senate did just that. House members then had just hours to pass the "clean" bill but failed to so do, triggering the shutdown.

    The spending cuts are expected to affect around 800,000 federal workers deemed non-essential. These include people employed with national parks and museums, some NASA and Food and Drug Administration staff, as well significant numbers of civil servants across different federal government agencies. Furloughed workers will be forced to take unpaid leave or have their working hours and salaries slashed. Many will have payment of their salaries delayed.

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