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Kristol: 'Not the end of the world' if shutdown halts food benefits

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol thinks America needs to calm down about the shutdown.

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol thinks America needs to calm down about the shutdown.

“I think there’s a little bit too much hysteria,” Kristol said on Wednesday’s Morning Joe. “We’re going to have to have a negotiation.”

But The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein challenged him that real people are feeling the effects of a shutdown.

“Maybe in your world it’s not the end of the world,” Stein fired back. “Eighty-five thousand people are losing nutritional assistance in Arkansas, that’s not inside the Beltway, that’s Arkansas. Thirteen Head Start programs are closing in Connecticut.”

It’s more than that: 23 Head Start programs in 11 states have sent low-income preschool children back home, because they lack the funding to stay open; 850,000 federal employees were placed on immediate, unpaid leave; and a number of veteran's services were hit by the shutdown, too.

“For these people who are affected by these cuts, it is sort of comparable to the end of the world. I understand it’s great to wait it out and to negotiate from a better platform with more power and the debt ceiling and all that,” Stein continued. “But those two weeks while you wait it out are consequential for a whole number of people, not just in the agencies that the Republicans want funded. I think we tend to lose that kind of perspective in these kinds of conversations."

Republicans have moved to fund, piecemeal, a handful of specific agencies. Three such bills were defeated in the House of Representatives on Tuesday by Democrats, but the Senate and the president have both promised to kill the bills if they reached them, saying the complete government needed to be funded, not just Republicans’ favorites.

“Look, I think if there are genuine human emergencies the Republican House should move to fund those relevant programs,” Kristol said looking skeptical. “But a one or two week shutdown is not going to be the end of the world and if you can’t go into the Smithsonian—” he began.

“Unless you’re on nutritional assistance,” Stein countered.

“It’s not going to be the end of the world, honestly, even if you’re on nutritional assistance from the federal government. The state of Arkansas can help out, localities can help out, churches can help out, I believe no one is going to starve in Arkansas because of the shutdown,” Kristol concluded.