By Matt Jackson
The United States government officially shut down at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 2.
Congress was scheduled to provide a bipartisan budget for the upcoming year on Oct. 1, which they failed to do. House Republicans put forth a budget plan that called for deep cuts in spending. When the time came to approve or deny the bill, it failed due to far right Republicans believing the cuts were not deep enough, and House Democrats arguing the spending cuts that were put forth went too far. Because of this inability to agree, workers in all levels of government are basically now on a forced vacation.
A government shutdown is something commonly misunderstood among Americans. It is both an overrated and understated occurrence. It is the result of both stubborn Republicans and Democrats refusing to agree on a budget they were elected to put forth. The most ridiculous part of the government shutdown is that while some branches of government may go unpaid over the course of the shutdown, they will be fully compensated for their time away when they return to Washington. Therefore, the losers of this government shutdown will be American citizens. While social security, welfare and other essential government programs will continue to run as usual, billions of tax dollars will just sit in waste. It is, simply put, outrageous.
The effects of the government shutdown are broad in scope. Depending on its length, the government shutdown could be detrimental to the Unites States economy. The current detriment lies in the tourism industry. The closing of national parks across the country puts thousands of Americans out of jobs, and prevents the parks from earning their necessary annual income.
The greatest risk lies in billions of taxpayer dollars being in a state of limbo as the public awaits a decision between the two parties. During this shutdown, Republicans and Democrats will standby as they watch to see which side gets the blame in the court of public opinion. Their wait could be a while, as recent polls show that the American public rightfully places equal blame on Republicans and Democrats in Washington.
If one political party appears to receive the majority of the blame, that party will most likely step forward and compromise. However, if the sway of public opinion continues as is, both sides may have to compromise. This means for the first time during the Obama administration, Republicans and Democrats as a whole may actually work together. Bipartisanship in Washington has been in a state of non-existence for years now. While there are few benefits to the government shutdown, a bipartisan compromise may be a positive outcome of this current state in government inadequacy.
For the most part, a government shutdown is an absolute disadvantage to the public. It is sad and disappointing that our elected officials are so immature as to refuse even discussing a bipartisan compromise. The greatest hope of the government shutdown is for the American public to act swiftly against the actions of the officials which they elected. American citizens must stand up for their compromised rights, and refuse to let the officials they elected be inactive. Voters must let their elected officials know they are not above the law, and if they do not accomplish what they are supposed to, they need to be held accountable by their constituents.