Staff Editorial: Lights are off, doors are closed
Less than a week after the 226th anniversary of the Constitution, the United States government officially shut down.
On Oct. 1, the government sent home thousands of workers without pay and suspended social services.
Starting Tuesday, countless government-funded services were either shut down or severely restricted, including national parks.
Not all services will be halted; federal employees have now been categorized into “essential” and “nonessential” in order to keep the country running.
Essential employees are those who conduct “essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property,” according to the Office of Management and Budget. Air traffic control, law enforcement, the postal service and all active duty military will remain in effect.
This drastic measure comes after the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed to reach an agreement on government-funding budget plans and Obamacare.
Essentially, policymakers within the federal government were unable to arrive at a compromise on how to fund the nation’s new health insurance system, and as a result, the government was shut down, leaving citizens to suffer.
Ironically, Obamacare relies on spending that is not affected by the shutdown, and starting on Tuesday, uninsured Americans were still able to shop for health insurance on online marketplaces such as healthcare.gov.
Members of Congress, the source of the shutdown, are secure as well, since their pay is written into permanent law.
Some deemed nonessential by the government still have to show up for work and prepare their offices and duties for a potentially lengthy hiatus.
However, the boundary between essential and nonessential has already been blurred. Vincent Gray, mayor of Washington, D.C., has labeled all city services essential and will use a cash-reserve fund to keep services available.
According to whitehouse.gov, which warns visitors on its homepage that information may not be up-to-date because of the shutdown, a one-week shutdown could cost our economy $10 billion.
The last government shutdown was in December 1995 to January 1996 and lasted 21 days. If the current shutdown were to last half as long, the impact on the national economy could be disastrous.
The situation we are facing has left thousands of Americans without jobs and basic services. Even the Statue of Liberty is closed to the public during the shutdown.
So now, since the politicians on Capitol Hill failed to reach a consensus as simple as a “yes” or “no,” the public is left forsaken by the feds.
It is outrageous that Congress is still receiving paychecks while hard-working Americans have been forced out of work by their bickering.
As long as Americans are paying taxes, they deserve to have an active government. Simply shutting doors and shutting down services to citizens who need them should never be accepted because the two political parties cannot come to terms.