U.S. government shuttered with no fast end seen amid discord

‘More Options’

After all three failed under an expedited procedure that required bipartisan support, Republicans said they would keep pressing similar efforts that Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate have consistently rejected.

“We’re going to stay here and keep working, putting more options on the table to continue funding government, while also ending the sweetheart deals in Obamacare,” said Representative Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican.

A bill to exempt the National Institutes of Health from the shutdown will be proposed today, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican. “I would like to guarantee that the people who are suffering, not getting treatment at the NIH” can do so, Cantor said last night on CNN.

Market Swings

The decline in S&P 500 futures signaled U.S. stocks will pare yesterday’s 0.8% gain. The 10-year Treasury yield was within four basis points of the lowest level since Aug. 12. The yield is down from the high this year of 3.005% on Sept. 6 and compares with the average of 3.53% over the past decade.

Treasury market volatility increased by the most in six weeks yesterday. Price swings as measured by the Merrill Lynch Option Volatility Estimate Index jumped 9% as the gauge advanced for a fifth day, the longest run of increases in four weeks. The index was at 87.37, versus the average of 69 for the past year.

The furlough of about 800,000 federal employees and the closing of offices, parks and museums may cost the U.S. at least $300 million a day in lost economic output at the start, according to IHS Inc.

Though that’s a fraction of the country’s $15.7 trillion annual economy, the effects may multiply over time as consumers and businesses defer purchases and other spending plans.

Political Jockeying

Both sides jockeyed yesterday for the political high ground in the standoff. Democrats said the nation was being taken hostage by the Republicans’ Tea Party faction, while the Republicans faulted Senate Democrats and Obama for being unwilling to negotiate over any proposal to delay or curtail the health-care act.

Unlike past fiscal feuds, this dispute is more about the health law than the overall amount of government spending. Democrats say they have already made a concession by accepting spending levels set under the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration, which first went into effect earlier this year and were part of the deal to avoid a 2011 default.

The U.S. budget deficit in June was 4.3% of gross domestic product, down from 10.1% in February 2010 and the narrowest since November 2008, when Obama was elected to his first term, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the Treasury Department and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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