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DPIR's Professor John Owens analyses the US government shutdown

Politics and International Relations 25 October 2013

Social Sciences and Humanities at Westminster

Hear the radio discussion and download the podcast on the Voice of Russia website.

"The US has a feudal constitution", argues Owens. "Which other country in the world allows the legislature to set the government’s debt limit? You have an inefficient governmental system designed for inefficiency … This [fiscal] crisis has demonstrated the inadequacies of the American system. It’s also been compounded by the polarisation between the parties and the sharp divisions within the Republican Party. You have a faction within the Republican Party that’s going to oppose the Democrats and the President by all means necessary."

In an earlier interview with the BBC, Owens said:

"What you have seen over the last 20 years in Congress is a kind of procedural arms race, and this is the latest example of it - one party, and it's usually the Republicans, finding some procedural device, [and] attaching this rider to a resolution to throw a spanner in the works and stop the government working.

"I wouldn't say it's at breaking point but we've seen an escalation of the use of veto points. The 'arms race' has been escalating and the parties have become increasingly polarised."


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