What's up with the shutdown?

Government Shutdown
Sign declaring that all national parks are closed during the shutdown

By Nikole Lambert

What is this business about a government shutdown, anyway? You may wonder what it means, and whether you should care.

Congress has a very important place in our government. They have two critical responsibilities: they vote on laws, and they vote on the national budget. In this case, Democrats and Republicans are at a standoff regarding the budget issue, because conservative Republicans are trying to use this opportunity to defund the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

“What we see happening with this Republican strategy is a willingness to threaten the very foundation of the world’s greatest economic power. That is a very risky proposition,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney in an interview with MSNBC.

There is a global economy, and the United States has a significant role in that. If we can’t pay our debts, it will affect all the countries we owe, and has the ability to throw us into a worldwide depression. The world economy depends heavily on the United States’, both for imports and exports. It’s a cycle of supply and demand that keeps the economy going.

The dilemma is ongoing, because neither side has been willing to compromise. The result is a government shutdown – national parks are closed, most government-funded scientific studies have stopped in their tracks, and hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” federal employees have been put out of work indefinitely and without pay. These people won’t be able to pay their bills if this stalemate continues.

“Keeping the people’s government open is not a concession to me.  Keeping vital services running and hundreds of thousands of Americans on the job is not something you ‘give’ to the other side.  It’s our basic responsibility…You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job; for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway; or just because there’s a law there that you don’t like,” President Barack Obama said in his Sept. 30 statement, targeting Republican Senator Ted Cruz and other Tea Party conservatives.

The deadline for the budget decision was Oct. 1 – it has already come and gone, and Congress still has not come to a resolution. Today is day nine of the shutdown, and still a resolution has not been reached. Today, Oct. 10, President Obama will be meeting with both the House Republicans and the Senate Democrats in hopes of reaching at least a short-term solution. Whether this will finally put an end to the situation remains to be seen.