by Xinhua writer Shang Jun
BEIJING, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. government was partially shut down for the first time in 17 years Tuesday, exposing again the ugly side of partisan politics in Washington.
With Republican and Democratic lawmakers sticking to their partisan interests and refusing to compromise on a funding bill, the U.S. government started the 2014 fiscal year with no budget.
As a result, about 800,000 federal workers were forced into unpaid furlough, and many non-essential government operations, such as national parks, museums, and monuments, were closed.
The shutdown not only disappointed voters, whom the people on Capitol Hill represent, but also made the outside world uneasy.
Global markets have so far reacted moderately to the bizarre but anticipated development, with investors still hoping for a quick solution.
As U.S. President Barack Obama warned, the shutdown could damage the world's largest economy, which is still struggling to cement its recovery. Though its immediate impact looks limited, the damage will multiply if the drama drags on for days or even weeks, arousing concerns over its spillover effect.
As a matter of fact, foreigners have already suffered from the shutdown with more than 400 historical sites and scenic spots across the country closed to tourists.
What is more worrisome is a looming battle over lifting the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned Tuesday that, if the 16.7-trillion-dollar borrowing limit is not raised by Oct. 17, the government will be forced to default on its obligations.
It reminds market watchers of the risky game played by Democrats and Republicans in the past two years.
In the summer of 2011, they failed to reach a deal in time on raising the debt ceiling of the U.S. government, leading to a historic downgrade of the country's top-level credit rating by a major global rating agency and creating turbulence on the global markets.
At the start of 2013, the United States came dangerously close to falling off the "fiscal cliff" with Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads for months.
In view of the latest political failure, a replay of the 2011 summer drama seems likely, which is certainly a concern for U.S. foreign creditors.
The United States, the world's sole superpower, has engaged in irresponsible spending for years.
With no political unity to redress its policy mistake, a dysfunctional Washington is now overspending the confidence in its leadership.