Split over the shutdown

Local residents are divided on who is to blame for the federal closures, but most want the impasse to end now
Phillip Mason of Medford believes in Obamacare and says the government is being held hostage by right-wing Republicans.

The divide among local residents over who's to blame for the federal shutdown runs just as deep as the schism fracturing Washington, with many blaming Congress for balking on health care reforms and others bashing President Obama for eschewing compromise.

"I would blame it solely on the president because he is unwilling to negotiate," said Bill Seymour of Ashland.

"Both sides are waiting for encouragement from him to negotiate, then they will be able to come to some agreement, though neither side will be happy."

Echoing the sentiment of people emerging from Parkside Cafe near Hawthorne Park in Medford, Bill Jones said the answer is to stop spending more money on programs.

"There should be a way to sit down and come to an agreement," said the Medford resident.

"But what do they care? They still get their paychecks. Obamacare was pushed on us and it has a lot of glitches that need to be addressed."

Medford pharmacist Lowell Anderson said, "The shutdown is great. We've got to quit spending money."

Phillip Mason of Medford said the situation is "pretty sad — and they should be able to find a common solution that works for everyone. I believe in Obamacare and I believe we are being held hostage by tea party or right-wing Republicans."

The solution to the crisis, Mason said, "will come when the American people stand up and voice their objection to being held hostage by a few extremists."

As a result of the shutdown, Mason said, his wife, the director of Addictions Recovery Center in Medford, was unable to file a federal grant she had prepared. None of the others interviewed said they were affected, as yet, by the shutdown.

Sipping coffee out front of Starbucks on Biddle Road, Angela Morell of Eagle Point said the crisis is caused by leaders in Washington refusing to communicate and set a good example for the nation.

"I look to the government as a role model, and if you can't look to our leaders as a good example, then it's very disheartening," Morell said.

"There's also a lot of hypocrisy, with people saying the government shouldn't be in the health care business, but then they pass anti-choice laws."

Her friend Leah Miller of Ashland noted, "Everyone blames the Republicans but it's both (sides). No one can compromise."

Alice Thomsen of Medford, a retired Army nurse with service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, said the shutdown is hurting veterans and children who are supposed to get medical care under the newly effective Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

House Republicans want the start of the act to be delayed a year and are refusing to sign the budget bill for the new fiscal year until that condition is met.

"It's the fault of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats," said Thomsen. "Obamacare needs to be blocked. It's not going to provide care for those who really need it. Congress and the president should get the same care the rest of us get; then they'd understand."

Her friend from California, Jennifer LaPointe, said, "It's horrible what they're doing to veterans and the disabled. These piecemeal compromises are ridiculous. They have to get on with life and pass the budget. That's their job."

Judy Cothrun of the Applegate said the shutdown is necessary, because of the federal debt that's piling up.

"It bothers me tremendously, but nothing's going to happen to the debt," she said. "Congress should start the dialogue and help work out a compromise. They need to be leaders now."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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