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Government Shutdown Over Obamacare Said To Be A '50-50' Proposition

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The stage is set for a partial government shutdown Tuesday morning.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers could be furloughed, including many in the Tri-State Area, and services cut unless a last-minute deal is struck.

The budget battle is, once again, over President Barack Obama's controversial health care law, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported.

The Senate started Friday with a prayer, with the chaplain asking for divine intervention to help avoid a government shutdown.

"Deliver us from government by crisis," Barry Black said.

But a crisis is exactly what Washington is facing. The Senate passed a spending bill intended to keep government running, but it includes funding for Obamacare. The House version doesn't and unless Senate Democrats and House Republicans reach agreement by midnight Monday, there will be a partial government shutdown.

"There are strongly held views on Obamacare and that's fair. Of course there are. But to hold people hostage unless you totally get your way is unfair," New York Sen. Charles Schumer said.

Some House Republicans don't see it that way. They want to defund Obamacare. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Republicans won't pass the Senate bill.

"I do not see that happening," Boehner said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is trying to shame House Republicans into a compromise, warning of dire consequences of a shutdown. He even quoted one of their own, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

"Gov. Christie - quote - 'shutdown would be a failure, it would be irresponsible,'" the Nevada Democrat said.

Christie expanded on that in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, set to air this weekend.

"I think it's always irresponsible if you're running the government to advocate shutting it down. That, by definition, is a failure," Christie said.

If there is a government shutdown, 200,000 federal employees would be out of work, applications for Social Security and disability benefits would be delayed, services for seniors would be significantly curtailed and passport and visa applications would be put on hold.

How likely is a shutdown?

"I would say right now it's about 50-50. I think it would be a disaster. It makes no sense at all, but I think right now the two parties are going in different directions," Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) said.

Late Friday afternoon, an angry President Obama attacked the Republicans and promised not to cave on his healthcare law.

"No one gets to hurt our economy and millions of innocents just because there are a couple of laws that you do not like," the president said.

Services deemed essential, like air traffic controllers and Medicare, would keep running, and the U.S. Postal Service would keep delivering mail because it is self-funded.

Senators and congressmen would keep getting paid, Kramer reported.


There will be crippling side effects to a shutdown. The Tri-State will get hit especially hard, with the impact felt on Wall Street, at local military bases and at Head Start centers.

Seniors, veterans, federal employees and even those getting help rebuilding after superstorm Sandy could feel the pinch, Kramer reported.

A shutdown would slam middle class families and small businesses in the region and be a nightmare for our shakily recovering economy.

"I realize that a lot of what's taking place now is political grandstanding, but this grandstanding has real effects on real people," Obama said.

Officials said the number of people here that could be squeezed by Washington's latest budget battle is scary:

* 72,000 federal employees in New York would be out of work.

* Nearly 54,000 local military members and 11,500 civilian employees would have their pay delayed if the shutdown lasts more than 10 days.

* Loans to small businesses here would be put on the backburner, affecting and estimated 1,000 per week.

* Head Start centers could close, affecting nearly 52,000 children.

* Sandy aid might be affected.

* Social Security and disability applications would be delayed.

* Veterans benefits would be delayed.

Schumer said Republicans are holding New Yorkers -- and everyone else in the country -- hostage by demanding that the president's healthcare measure be de-funded.

"Anyone can come in and say unless I get my way completely I'm going to shut the government down, but it's not just related to them versus us; it's related to millions of innocent people. It's not the right thing to do," Schumer said.

And then there's Wall Street. Even Rep. King said he's frustrated with his fellow Republicans, and worried about the effect on the local economy.

"The biggest impact is going to be on the economy itself. It's going to be a jolt to the economy and that always particularly hits New York," King said. "As far as the stock market, as far as business confidence, as far as investment, it will always have a uniquely bad impact on New York, New York City, the entire region."

"For any Republican in Congress who's currently watching, I'd encourage you to think about who you're hurting," Obama said.

Beyond the budget battle, an even more dangerous showdown looms. Congress has to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 or the country would face its first ever default on government loans, which has all kinds of fiscal implications, Kramer reported.

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