As the government shutdown continues, Americans continue to suffer and question the true role of politicians in this country – as if we haven’t been questioning all along.
Some of you may not know why the government shutdown occurred last Tuesday at midnight. Here’s your chance to find out.
Congress failed to pass a budget to fund the government because the Tea Party, I mean the House Republicans, wanted the Senate to negotiate about funding the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, which went into effect Wednesday.
Even though the government shutdown would not stop the Affordable Care Act from being funded and going into effect, House Republicans wouldn’t budge. They gambled with the lives of American people, and they continue to gamble today.
The Senate did not feel the need to negotiate with House Republicans about a U.S. federal statute that was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Good thing they didn’t, because about 2 million people went to HealthCare.gov on Tuesday morning to sign up for healthcare. More people are signing up every day.
This means the number of uninsured citizens, about 48 million total, will decrease because they will be able to afford health insurance and therefore, have access to affordable health care. The House Republicans repealed the Affordable Care Act more than 40 times without success, which shows waste of time and energy on the American citizens’ tab.
Republicans no longer ask what they can do to better the lives of Americans; they ask what they can do to deepen their pockets.
Politics in general is about making money. Why else do candidates spend billions during election season? There is no way middle-class John Doe or Jane Doe could become President of the United States, even if he or she has the greatest ideas and best solutions, without an adequate amount of money.
Why are we letting these people have control over our country? The shutdown clarifies the American citizens’ role in the country. They are no longer first on politicians’ lists, especially the conservative House Republicans’ list.
A “few” backlashes caused by the shutdown, include hundreds of thousands of federal workers being sent home without pay or those chosen to work having their paychecks delayed for an unclear amount of time. An eerie feeling hangs above the District of Columbia, as most shops and businesses have cut hours because the traffic of people has slowed down tremendously.
Thousands of children have lost Head Start, national parks and museums have been closed and more federally funded programs fear the future if the shutdown continues.
About 9 million mothers and children are provided nutrition from WIC, the Women, Infant and Children program. Some states say they can operate until the end of October, but we know what will happen to states that cannot operate until the end of October. The American women and children will suffer.
More than federal workers are being affected by the shutdown, while members of Congress still get paid for putting the U.S. in this mess.
Members of the House and Senate currently make $174,000 a year, and since their salary is written into permanent law, they cannot be withheld paychecks. I’d say it’s safe to say, even if they weren’t getting paid during the shutdown, savings could cover their troubling times.
If this shutdown lasts more than two weeks, like the shutdown in 1996 when Bill Clinton was wrestling with, you guessed it, Republicans over a budget, a fiscal crisis is bound to take place. Just when citizens saw a glimmer of hope in the rising economy and the passing of the Affordable Care Act, history repeated itself 18 years later for no good reason.
As I scanned through media throughout the week, the word “hostage” was used to express the tightening grip on American citizens the House Republicans have caused. On Saturday, President Obama yet again called for action from the House Republicans, to clean-cut the government shutdown, and stop holding American citizens hostage.
“The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress,” President Obama said. “They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law … That’s why I won’t pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government. And I certainly won’t pay a ransom in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse.”
Predictions of how long the shutdown will last are an average of 17 days total. This prediction is too comfortably close to when the debt ceiling is supposed to be decided upon, as the U.S. is weighted down with $16.7 trillion of debt.
I’m hoping the shutdown ends sooner than later, so more American lives are not gambled with. The lives who the House Republicans have forgotten about, because they are too focused on using us as tools in a game they began and had no chance of winning.
BY JESSICA JASPERSON