Wednesday, October 2, 2013

So about that Government Shutdown...

While you may have thought the biggest closing this week was that of the beloved series Breaking Bad, it turns out the United States Government closing takes the cake. Most Breaking Bad fans would argue that the series finale crossed every t, dotted every i, and left no questions unanswered. The government closing on the other hand, only leaves us with more questions. So what exactly is going on and why? 

In March of 2010, President Obama passed the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, into law. Without getting into too much detail about what exactly Obamacare is, (although you can read up on it here) it is clear that there is a huge debate about whether this law will help or hurt American citizens. In very broadly generalized terms- Democrats like it, and Republicans don't like it. 

The current spending bill proposed by House Speaker, John Boehner included many anti-Obamacare amendments, which passed in our mostly-Republican House. The bill then moved to the Senate, which is mostly Democrat, and refuses to pass anything anti-Obamacare. It did not pass. Government programs need money to operate, and if congress can't agree on how to fund those programs, they choose to shut down [1]. The last time we had a government shut down was in 1996, when President Bill Clinton, and the Republican Congress couldn't compromise over spending. This shutdown lasted for 28 days. 

Because lawmakers cannot compromise over Obamacare, at the beginning of the fiscal year, on October 1, the government shut down. During a shutdown, government programs are split between "essential" and "non-essential" groups. For example- social security, medicare, law enforcement, and military are examples of essential groups that will continue operation. National parks, federally owned museums, and many federally regulated agencies (such as the IRS) will all close [2]. The shutdown will last until lawmakers can reach an agreement.

In situations such as this, where one news story completely encompasses every media outlet, it's important to be informed about what's going on. In this case, it's not only important to understand what a shutdown is, but also what exactly Obamacare is, and why it is causing such a huge debate among our federal government. While as college students, we may fall under our parent's health care, this will not always be the case, and it's important to educate ourselves on an issue that seriously impacts our future. 

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