Government Shutdown: Lessons We’ve Learned
OMG WHAT IS GOING ON?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as up on politics as I should be. It’s messy and confusing and I’m pretty sure that if I knew more than I do, I would become incredibly disheartened at the state of the world, and so I choose to exist in my own little bubble, full of unicorns and fun free things.
Sometimes that doesn’t really work though. Like right now, how the government has shut down. I mean, it’s kind of an alarming phrase, don’t you think? Except I don’t know what that actually means. Do we just not have a government? Do we still have to abide by the law? Yeah, that makes me sound incredibly clueless, but apparently I have no shame.
I decided to break free of that bubble, just temporarily, to figure out just what’s going on. Sometimes you just have to suck it up, let go of the unicorns, and face the real world.
Lesson #1: The government is full of a bunch of big babies. They can’t agree on anything. In a nutshell, Congress was supposed to pass a spending bill for the new fiscal year (which started October 1). The House of Representatives and the Senate couldn’t agree on a bill to pass. This means there is currently no new funding.
Lesson #2: The GOP are sneaky jerks, except they aren’t sneaky. Also GOP stands for “Grand Old Party.” Seriously. The House of Representatives have a Republican majority (a.k.a the GOP) and keep trying to pass bills that would involve amending the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. When the bill gets to the Senate, the majority of which are Democrats, they say no, because they like Obamacare and don’t want to change it.
Lesson #3: It’s impossible to make this sound simple.
Lesson #4: When Congress (the combination of the House and Senate) can’t decide on a new spending bill by the new fiscal year, the government “shuts down.” We still have a government though, and yes, we still have to abide by laws. Now the government just doesn’t have a budget, so they can’t pay federal employees.
Lesson #5: The government can’t just stop spending money though, so they have to decide who is important enough to keep working and getting paid, and who sits at home doing nothing. Basically a lot of important things aren’t getting done, because as I mentioned, Congress is a bunch of babies.
Lesson #6: Since the government has to keep spending money, they need to get it from somewhere. This is where the debt ceiling comes in. It’s the equivalent to a credit card maximum, and they’ve almost reached it. What do they do when they hit the ceiling? Raise it. Sounds easy enough, except, like a credit card, eventually you still have to pay the money back. If you get another card, you’re just adding to the debt you eventually have to pay back. And the longer it takes to pay it back, the more interest you owe.
Lesson #7: Our government is kind of dumb.
I don’t mean to sound completely anti-government, because I’m 99% sure my little bubble would not protect me from anarchy or a zombie apocalypse. But if these guys (and girls) could get their acts together, that would really be great.
What does this mean for people like us, the ones who buy things we don’t need (except we totally do) and can’t really afford? Well, first of all, it means we desperately need insurance (through Obamacare?) for this shopaholic disease. Second of all, it means that our slowly recovering economy may tank again. This is kind of really bad news, except not really. Why? Because now when you’re out shopping for things you totally need, you can justify it with my favorite excuse: I’m just helping out the economy.
By Zoe Siegel