The US state had to shut down non-essential services on Tuesday as Congress failed to agree the new budget at the start of the financial year.
Around 800,000 workers have been sent home with no pay.
The Republican opposition, which dominates the lower House of Representatives, refused to support the budget plans unless president Barack Obama’s health care programme was delayed for a year.
“Obamacare”, as the new law is dubbed, was passed three years ago and was due to roll out this Tuesday. It is a watered down version of what millions of poor Americans had hoped for.
But for some sections of the ruling class it is still too much to swallow. They are using every opportunity to block it from being enacted.
The media portray the far right Tea Party Republicans as holding the rest of their party and Obama to ransom.
But the crisis also shows the instability at the heart of the world’s greatest super power. And Obama has shown himself unable to drive through the one piece of legislation he wants to be remembered for.
However long this shutdown lasts and whatever deals are done, the interests of ordinary Americans are not represented in this tussle at the top.