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Roundtable: The U.S. Powers Down, Obamacare Powers Up, Mayor’s Race Powers On



Alison St. John


Dean Calbreath, San Diego Daily Transcript

Sandhya Dirks, KPBS News

Scott Lewis, Voice of San Diego


The Government Powers Down

On Tuesday the U.S. Government closed its doors to its citizens.

A few agencies, deemed essential, remained open: the military, the Transportation Security Administration, Social Security and air traffic control, among them.

Other than stopping paychecks for federal workers (some of who, like the U.S. Capitol Police, must remain on the job anyway), the government ceased funding for Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children, the program also known as WIC, leaving 9 million mothers and kids under five without vouchers for food.

Some local experts predict that if the shutdown lasts as long as the two engineered by Newt Gingrich in 1995 and 1996 (28 days total), the impact on San Diego will be felt early and severely because of the region’s heavier-than-most dependency on the federal government.

In addition to the negative impact on the military and its local providers, the U.S. Border Patrol, defense contractors and recipients of federal research grants, such as universities and biotech firms, will all be affected.

The employment growth rate in San Diego County had already declined in recent months because of cutbacks caused by sequestration. A prolonged shutdown could entirely squash the region's budding economic recovery.

Obamacare Powers Up

Having survived 42 congressional attempts to kill it, a challenge in the Supreme Court, a nearly 22-hour speech by Sen. Ted Cruz and now a government shutdown, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) opened for enrollment on Tuesday anyway.

It was immediately overwhelmed by the huge volume of inquiries.

The ACA, or Obamacare, does not provide for universal health coverage, but it brings that goal is much closer than before. California has taken the lead on implementing the ACA and is running its own health care exchange, Covered California, which has an array of plans managed by six companies.

Covered California expects to field some 4,500 calls a day during the enrollment period, which ends on March 31 next year. In San Diego County, about 500,000 persons currently lack health care insurance, including 77,500 children under 18.

Although the state has been engaged for months in an outreach and information campaign, many — maybe most — potential customers started to research their options on day one of open enrollment.

The Mayor's Race Powers On

The special election for mayor of San Diego is less than two months away. Positions are being staked out, money is being raised, polling is being done and endorsements are being made — gratefully and loudly accepted — at a furious pace.

Democrat Nathan Fletcher, welcomed to the fold by local labor Mickey Kasparian, has been suddenly un-welcomed. Fletcher and Republican Kevin Faulconer both tout their neighborhood cred and both have been endorsed by some local business interests. Local labor and former Councilwoman Donna Frye have endorsed the candidacy of Democrat David Alvarez. As yet, former City Attorney Mike Aguirre has not announced any endorsements.

A Voice of San Diego reporter at a recent debate detected an alliance between Faulconer and Alvarez, with the two backing each other up and ignoring Fletcher. Some might think this is because recent polling by UT-San Diego and 10News shows 30 percent of respondents would vote for Fletcher; 22 percent for Faulconer and 17 percent for Alvarez.

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