It has come to my attention that many of my fellow students are having a hard time understanding what the government shutdown means for the country and themselves.
What is a government shutdown?
A government shutdown occurs when all “non-essential” government services stop due to prolonged disagreement between the Senate and Congress on government spending.
Example: You and your mom couldn’t agree on a good day to do the laundry, so no laundry was done at all.
Why did the government shut down?
Every fiscal year (running from Oct. 1-Sep. 30), the government must pass bills on how to fund programs in order for them to stay in operation. The federal government, namely the Senate and Congress, could not agree on how to fund these programs by the end of the fiscal year.
Example: Your mom told you and your brother to decide who got to ride in the front seat of the car by the time you left for Grandma’s house. Neither of you could agree, so you both had to sit in the back seat.
What are the Senate and Congress arguing about?
Republicans have long tried to thwart Obamacare, and have been unsuccessful in their endeavors since 2010. The Republican majority of Congress proposed a change to this year’s spending bill that would defund Obamacare. The Democratic majority of the Senate did not accept that change. After months of arguing, time ran out to come to an agreement.
Example: You and your friend Bobby want to order pizza. Bobby wants pepperoni and asks if that’s OK. You tell him you are a vegetarian, but he just won’t budge because he really, really loves pepperoni. You argue for hours about the pizza until you realize the pizza place closed while you were arguing.
What is Obamacare?
Obamacare is the latest health care initiative proposed by President Obama. It requires all U.S. citizens to have health insurance and does not allow insurance companies to deny people care. It also offers financial help to those who cannot afford health insurance. All citizens will be required to have health insurance, or pay a fee on their taxes if they do not.
Example: You and your class are going to a shooting range. In order to ensure your safety, the range requires everyone to wear a bullet-proof vest. If you refuse to wear the vest, you will be charged a fine. No one goes without a vest, even if the range doesn’t carry the size you need.
Why does Congress want to get rid of Obamacare so badly?
The Republican majority of Congress believes that requiring citizens to purchase insurance is overstepping boundaries, and that charging a fee if you do not comply is unfair.
Example: You don’t think your mom should have any say in whom you date. She requires you to bring your new boyfriend or girlfriend home to meet your family to make sure they are adequate for you. If you don’t, you don’t get your allowance that week.
Who is affected by the government shut down?
All government employees whose jobs are “non-essential” will not attend work for the duration of the shutdown (they’re on what’s known as a “furlough”). This includes people working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Homeland Security, National Park Services, visa and passport services and many more. It leaves approximately 800,000 government employees to twiddle their thumbs for an unknown amount of time. But divisions of the government like active military, law enforcement, postal service and, of course, Congress, will continue to operate and receive payment for the duration of the shutdown.
Example: Dad gets laid off, and now your parents can’t afford to give both you and your brother allowance anymore. Your parents pick the most important child to continue receiving allowance until Dad gets a new job.
What are the lasting effects on the country?
Economists estimate that a three-to-four-week shutdown could end up costing almost $55 billion dollars.
In other words: the cost of approximately 100 items at lululemon.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sophie Junak at Sophie.firstname.lastname@example.org.