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Washington Extra - Paychecks and politics

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 7 Apr 2011 22:09 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Mary Milliken

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Reuters) - When it comes to a government shutdown, Americans can surely live with federal employees powering down their BlackBerrys at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. They can make other plans if the Smithsonian museums and national parks like Yosemite are closed. But not paying troops on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan just won't fly - and that's why it's an extra-hot issue.

Most soldiers, sailors and Marines don't need much money in the field. But their families back home do, for big expenses like mortgages and basic things like food. The real question for Americans would be: Is this how we want to treat our men and women in uniform who are putting their lives on the line? You don't need a pollster to tell you that the resounding answer would be "no."

As Washington Extra goes to press, we might be hours from a deal that would avert the shutdown and ensure those military paychecks keep rolling out to those in service. But if no deal is reached, then expect some sharp finger-pointing over this issue.

The Democrats can blame Republicans for refusing to budge on an overall budget deal and the Republicans can blame President Barack Obama for refusing to consider a new stop-gap bill. But in a country that loves its troops, politicians with their eye on 2012 elections should be doing everything to avoid getting stuck in this minefield.

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