Politics may not be your cup of tea, but that’s not an excuse to be ill-informed when it comes to current events. No one will be impressed that you can quote Kanye West’s latest twitter rant verbatim, if you can’t name the Speaker of the House (#NODISRESPECBENAFFLECK). No one will think it’s cute if you think the Dow is a yoga position or that Benghazi is a person. Seriously, in the words of Jessa from GIRLS, “Read a newspaper. Just one newspaper.”
As the future of this country, it’s your duty to at least be marginally aware of what’s going on around you. You don’t need to know everything; you just need to know the basics. Here, I’ve broken down the government shutdown to the bare minimum. It’s a lengthy and vastly complicated issue – this explanation by no means covers the subject with the due diligence and detail it deserves. It will, however, keep you from embarrassing yourself in your American Politics 101 class, so you’re welcome. After reading it, do yourself a favor and turn on the news, even if it’s just for background noise. Seriously. Do it.
Government Shutdown 101
When did it start?
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013.
Why did it happen?
Congress is supposed to pass 12 Appropriations Bills each year. These bills, which must be agreed upon by the House and Senate, create spending priorities and budget out funds for federal agencies. However, Congress has become increasingly bad about passing these Appropriations Bills. Instead of agreeing upon an actual budget, they’ve resorted to “stopgap” budgets, i.e. continuing resolutions. The stopgap budget that was last put into place on March 28th of this year, ended on September 30th. An attempt was made to pass another stopgap budget, which would’ve prevented the shutdown, but the House and Senate could not agree on the terms. The House, which is controlled by Republicans, proposed a bill that would delay Obamacare, but the Democratic-controlled Senate refused to pass it.
TL;DR: Congress couldn’t agree on how to allocate funds to various government agencies and programs, so the government is temporarily shutdown.
Does this mean complete chaos?
No. Agencies and programs providing national security and public safety are not affected by the shutdown. The military, police, emergency medical care, border patrol, air traffic controllers, and disaster relief, emergency assistance, and power grid operators will all continue working.
TL;DR: You’re safe. Stop being such a pussy.
What happens to social programs?
Social Security is considered mandatory, therefore it cannot be affected in the event of a government shutdown. Additionally, welfare checks and food stamps will continue to be available, because the budget for those programs was approved in previous bills.
TL;DR: If you work (for the government), you won’t get paid. If you don’t, you will.
The fiscal year for the government runs from October 1 – September 30th. This may be the middle of the year for us, but it’s the beginning of the year for Congress.
TL;DR: What does it matter? It was going to happen sooner or later.
Has the government ever shutdown before?
Yes. It occurred under Clinton in late 1995. It lasted for 26 days.
TL;DR: No more Democratic presidents.
Will this affect the economy?
Yes. The true detriment of the hit to the economy will correspond to how long the shutdown actually lasts. Economists are estimating that a 3-4 week shutdown will likely cost the economy 55 billion dollars. Keep in mind, as a nation, we are already in debt over 16 trillion dollars.
TL;DR: Our economy is a joke.
What does Obamacare have to do with it?
A lot. Republicans are using the health care law as a bargaining chip, so to speak. Republicans feel so strongly that Obamacare will have such detrimental effects on our country and the economy, that they are willing to temporarily shut down the government in order to derail it. The House passed amendments to the spending bill that would delay Obamacare for a year, but the Senate refused to pass a bill that changed the proposed healthcare system in any way.
TL;DR: The House and Senate can’t agree on Obamacare. Harry Reid is an ass. Ted Cruz is awesome.
What about people who work for the government?
Government workers are divided into two categories: essential and non-essential. Those who are deemed non-essential, roughly 800,000 people, are required to stay home. Those who are deemed essential, about 3.3 million people, are required to go into work, despite the fact that they’ll be unpaid, indefinitely.
TL;DR: It’s not good either way.
What about the military?
The only positive thing I can say about Congress right now is that the “Pay Our Military” act was passed before the shutdown began. This means that regardless of any budget issues, the active duty men and women of the Armed Forces will continue to be paid on time – even during the government shutdown.
TL;DR: Even Congress supports the troops.
When will the shutdown be over?
Right now, the House and Senate are at a standstill in regards to healthcare. Yes, there are other issues at hand, but Obamacare is the big bargaining chip at the moment. Only time will tell.
TL;DR: We should’ve elected Romney.
Image via Poly Mic