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Editorial: Fed shutdown will impact rubber industry

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The rubber industry isn't immune to the effects of the shutdown of the federal government.

Anyone in the industry, like all Americans, is liable to feel the impact of the shutdown. Need to have your passport renewed? Forget it. Plan to visit a national park? It's closed. Wondering how bad the flu season will be? The Center for Disease Control can't help—most everyone was sent home.

Specific to the rubber industry are several important agencies that are closed except for emergencies.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—which won't be doing safety testing or issuing recall notices—has been taking forever to devise a plan for tire fuel efficiency labeling. The tire industry will have to wait even longer to find out how to proceed.

Two other regulatory agencies—the Occupational Health & Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency—have suspended work except for emergencies. Executives who can't stand those feds may like that situation, but the fact is the rubber industry has for decades worked to help shape regulations from these agencies, rather than exhibit a knee-jerk, anti-everything attitude. Now any such effort is at a standstill.

How about this one: The Small Business Administration won't be accepting applications for new loans. Half the rubber industry is made up of "small" businesses.

At least the Internal Revenue Service isn't launching any new audits.

The best scenario would be if Congress puts on its "big boy pants" and moves on from the invented crisis and makes this editorial, written Oct. 3, moot. Another debt-ceiling date arrives Oct. 17, and more political theatrics promise to seriously threaten a fragile economic recovery.