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Editorial: Short-term government funding is just a start

January 30, 2019

That big gust of wind you likely felt on what was an otherwise calm and sunny Friday last week didn’t have anything to do with the weather.

That big gust of wind was likely caused by the collective “WHEW!” from thousands of Douglas County residents and millions of Americans when news that the partial government shutdown had ended.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Here in our own back yard, outdoor enthusiasts and loggers were probably doing cartwheels with Roseburg’s Bureau of Land Management office reopening. After all, the office oversees more than 400,000 acres of Southwest Oregon, which annually yields more than 36 million board feet of timber each year, according the the bureau. Not to mention that it manages the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River and the North Umpqua Trail that goes into the Cascade Mountain Range.

Anyone who is an avid hiker who has the recent rains earlier this month found out how much the BLM was missed when restroom facilities were shuttered and trash cans were overflowing.

And if the shutdown would have continued, food-stamp benefits would have been in jeopardy. That would have been a huge blow to people here. A 2013 count done by the U.S. Census Bureau showed 28,435 people — approximately 26.3 percent of Douglas County’s population — benefit from an Oregon Trail EBT card.

Oh, and let’s not forget how tax returns could have been delayed for a long, long time, especially with much of the Internal Revenue Service processing mountains of tax refunds without seeing any kind of monetary compensation.

So yeah. The torches and pitchforks would have been out in full force, but that would have been the least of the government’s problems.

This time of year, for lack of a better way of saying it, was probably the best time for a shutdown to happen. Not a lot of people travel, not a lot of people buy houses, and not a lot of people spend a lot of money on stuff other than their heat and electric bill in an effort to stay warm.

But things wouldn’t have gotten any better had the shutdown prolonged.

It opened back up Friday thanks to what essentially is a three-week bandaid, one that allows lawmakers to hammer out some kind of compromise for the border-security debate that started this whole mess. If it’s not done, we could wind up right back where we were a few days ago.

Now, not later, is the perfect time to get things done, and knowing there’s even a remote possibility we could move backward is unacceptable.

We deserve better.

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