Disrupt   |  October 05, 2013

Shutdown’s real impact on everyday Americans

Real Americans are feeling a very real impact from the government shutdown. One of those people is Lawanna Russell, founder and president of Business Management Associates in Alexandria, Virginia, who joins MSNBC’s Karen Finney to tell her story. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank and Demos’ Sasha Abramsky also join.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> i'm not afraid of a couple of weeks.

>> it is not the end of the -- the state of arkansas can help out. localities help out. churches help out. i believe that no one will starve in arkansas because of the shutdown.

>> that's what i call compassion compassionate conservatism. real americans are feeling a real impact from the shutdown. just take a listen.

>> i'm a single homeowner so i have my mortgage and i'm in the community where i pay hoa and the bills coming in.

>> just because the paycheck stopped doesn't mean the bills stopped.

>> this could be the miracle drug . this could be the one that saved me that i was going to be able to walk my daughter down the aisle.

>> that is just a very small sampling how the tea party 's temper tantrum is having a real effect. one of those individuals is with us in virginia and we wanted to start with you. thank you for joining us. i wanted to start this conversation with you because there's so much rhetoric about the fact this is not having a big impact on people and i know with your business not only did the first round of sequester cuts have an impact on your business and now this whole, you know, silliness is having an additional impact. tell us about your business and what is going on.

>> sure. we are management consultants in the washington, d.c. area. we provide human capital and business process free engineering services to clients and most is the federal government and so these decisions, these budget decisions impact us daily because they are pretty much how we supply the jobs through the company. so when sequester first hit, we had a loss of about ten positions. so i had to ultimately terminate those folks and we were just starting to pull it back together, just starting to get the company back on the right track and looking at winning some things and then this shutdown.

>> well then just as a final question to you, you know, ironically, one of the talking points we hear from the republicans is that the affordable care act is a job killer and that's why we have to repeal it.

>> you know, the affordable care act is only a job killer for those employers who want it to be and decided and made that choice that it's going to be a job killer. i very much understand the logic and that if you have a very happy, healthy work force they're going to be more productive and going to work harder for your company. it's amazing to me that others don't understand that. and you make a conscious choice to fund health care and we've always had health care available for every single employee in my company, as well. because it's something i value as an employer and it is amazing to me how many employers don't value this.

>> thank you so much for joining us.

>> thank you.

>>> i want to talk more about the impact of the shutdown and the politics. joining me now is opinion writer for "the washington post " dana mill bank and sasha bromski author of "the american way of poverty." thanks to you for joining me.

>> hi, karen.

>> i want to start with you, dana , because part of what i think we're talking about in the conversation is sort of bigger question, when's the role of government in people's thoughts and what i thought we resolved in the 2012 election. you know, there was a mitt romney guy and there was this whole thing. i mean --

>> i remember something about this.

>> something. but it really feels like, i mean, this conversation about priorities it's the -- what's the role of government? i think we have got -- we have a full screen of a gallup poll . granted, kind of mixed. but i think part of what people are discovering through this process is that government touches their lives in more ways than they may have realized.

>> yeah. and i think that hannity and kristol are outliers here. some are spoiling for this. they know it's painful and particularly painful if you're the one being -- the kid with cancer's being turned away at the nhi or if your kid's not getting that slot in head start or if you're not getting the nutritional assistance. but it affects everybody. when you knock 800,000 people out of work. well, yeah, they work in the public sector and buy things in the private sector and brings things down for everybody, whether you're a democrat or a republican. we're all going to suffer the economic conditions quenssequenceconsequen ces.

>> this week particularly in the rhetoric we have seen the infamous scene at the world war ii monument. but just in general, feeding into this rhetoric about federal workers and sort of demonizing the federal government , demonize demonizing federal workers and i have sound of senator reid talking about this earlier today.

>> these are ordinary americans who haven't been treated very well during last several years by the republicans anyway. no pay raises. they treat federal employees like they're a lower class of worker than other people.

>> i mean, you know, dana , so much of the rhetoric this week has been and so much of the rhetoric over the last several years is demonizing federal workers. the average salary on the hill is $30,000. not a lot of money in washington, d.c.

>> yeah. when you think about federal worker, they -- the republicans would like to make it sort of a faceless bureaucrat but they're the scientists at nih who are finding the next cure, centers for disease control tracking epidemics around the world. they're the capitol police who were protecting that building and putting their lives at risk this week.

>> that's right.

>> and not getting paid for it. so democrats and republicans in the house stood to applaud them for that effort. it would be better to pay them the wages promised.

>> sasha , i know you've been writing about poverty in america in particular and something you wrote i think earlier this week specifically an food stamps and in s.n.a.p. on the forefront of the budget conversation we have been having and you wrote nose who believe food stamp spending is too high sometimes argue if the government spends less on the program people would simply work harder so they could buy their own food or else they would get food from food pantries or other charities. that's not true in many cases. i wanted to read that because, i mean, you heard some of the gop sort of rhetoric, oh, it is not that bad and charities fill in the banks but it goes into this larger sort of makers and takers and sort of a real lack of understanding of who the working poor in this country really are.

>> it does. i think it also feeds off of what dana was saying about the faceless brats trying to reduce the conversation to. if you speak in abstractions, federal bureaucrats, whether the unemployed or the long-term poor, the working poor , it is easier to demonize them and say their problems are their own fault. if you put a face on it, if you say that working poor , that's mary vasquez, a woman i interviewed in texas at 67 and working in walmart. someone bankrupt with a health bill isn't an abstraction but a young lady i met in albuquerque who has tens of thousands of bills for a burst appendicts. it's much, much harder to understand and to follow this gop rhetoric that cuts just don't hurt and don't matter. obvious they matter and affecting real people on the daily basis.

>> and now 40 billion in cuts. what kind of impact do you see that?

>> 47 million americans on food stamps and not because they want to be but because they have lost their jobs or many of them have jobs and paid too little to pay all their bills. on food stamps because otherwise the kids would be hungry. take $40 billion out of that program and several million of those 40 million especially able-bodied adults will be hungry and i have spoken to people around the country saying talking about tightening the belts, we lit rayly going down to one or two meals a day. dozens of people in that situation. if you take money out of food stamps , you make that situation that much worse and make real hunger that much more of a likelihood in america.

>> you make it that much harder for people to go to work and do the things they're supposed to do.

>> go to work and school. a hungry child going to school is a disaster. that kid is thinking about their stomach and not the work in school. at every level if you take money out of programs like food stamps , you hit the most vulnerable americans and where it hurts most and a dishonorable thing to do.

>> i went back and looked at the preamble of the constitution and truck me that the conversation having does not seem consistent with what this country is supposed to be. we the people of the united states to form a more perfect union established justice, tranquility, provide for the common defense, and on and on. those seem like pretty basic things and seems like, i don't know, funding government or making sure kids can eat falls underneath all of that stuff.

>> well, we have -- we have a representative democracy and people recommending the people that are causing this shutdown, well, they're not necessarily feeling the same kind of pain that others are. they're not getting pressure to end this shutdown at home. they think they're answering to the people and just answering to the small slice of the electorate. they're behaving rationally in a very irrational system.

>> more of them i think need to meet the people that sasha was talking about. thank you.

>> thank you.

>> thank you.

>> >>> later, despite the best efforts, the gop lost the battle on the affordable care act and we'll debunk some of their disaster talk. follow us online at facebook and tweet us. let us know how you think the government shutdown can come to a close.

>> what plan do you support, obama care or the afford care act ?

>> affordable care act .

>> why? over obama care?

>> i don't like obama care and nothing that has to be forced for everybody to buy. it's just not good.

>> do you think obama care is socialist?

>> yes, i do.

>> do you think the affordable care act is socialist?

>> no.

>> do you believe in obama care to eventually lead to gun prohibition?