The failure by the Democrats and Republicans to agree a government budget by midnight on Monday meant government services began shutting down. The two parties failed to see eye to eye on President Barack Obama's health reforms.
An estimated 800,000 public sector workers will have to stay at home from Tuesday. It is the first time this has happened in 17 years.
Giving its reaction Spiegel Online said: “A superpower has paralyzed itself.” But it added that politicians were working in Washington to solve the crisis and said there was still hope for an agreement.
The Welt newspaper warned of “fatal consequences” stating the “unthinkable has happened.” The shutdown puts the world economy in danger, it added. “The fear is real that the tender US recovery will be damaged,” it said.
The newspaper described the US president as being between a “rock and a hard place”. “Either he breaks the law and no longer pays teachers, firefighters and FBI agents, or he ignores the debt ceiling, which would also be illegal,” it said.
For the Zeit newspaper, the blame lay with a “handful of radicals” who did not want to compromise and would rather hold a country hostage to their ideology.
“Not only are millions of government workers affected but all Americans, as the inability to pay, if it lasts for weeks, will have fatal affects on the economy,” it said.
“A small group of uncompromising Republican ideologues in the House of Representatives are principally responsive for this disaster,” it said. “They are not only taking their own party to the brink, but the whole country. Unfortunately the leadership of this party has neither had the courage nor the backbone to put them in their place.”
For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, US budget policy was often “extremely dubious”. “For years the financial year has begun on October 1st without an orderly budget adopted by Congress and signed off by the President,” it said.
The newspaper added that Obama's health reforms – hated by the Republicans – rather than the budget, was the real battleground currently being fought over.
US Ambassador to Germany John Emerson said: "I cannot predict what will or will not happen back in Washington. Regardless of what happens, Mission Germany – that is, the embassy and our consulates here in Germany – will remain open and working tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. We will be open for essential services."
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