What happens next for the government shutdown?
By Tom Cicero
With the government shutdown in full swing, things could quickly become problematic for everyone, not just government workers in the U.S.
While the shutdown had an immediate effect on some government workers, if it is prolonged, it will eventually have an effect on the entire country. Financial problems, such as the U.S. being viewed as a risky investment to outsiders, and economic problems could arise as a result.
At the heart of the discussion is the Affordable Care Act.
There are two sides when it comes to the shutdown and the ACA. Many pro-ACA people think the shutdown is unnecessary and ridiculous. Among these people is Jennifer Clark, an economics professor at Roosevelt University.
“I am definitely for affordable health insurance for people,” Clark said. “Health insurance is the biggest cause of bankruptcy in our economy today. Bankruptcy is really bad for our economy, for the neighborhoods and for families.
“I definitely think that by providing health insurance that is affordable, our economy can only grow stronger. It can create jobs and healthier workers. Widespread bankruptcy would cause a huge hit to the U.S. economy, but is not the only repercussion that this shutdown could have if it is not fixed quickly.
“A temporary shutdown could decrease our gross domestic product for the year, but a long-term shutdown could increase the interest rates we pay on our debt by two percent.”
Another supporter of the ACA is Jocelyn Castro, a social justice major at Roosevelt, who approached the issue with people in mind, rather than economics.
“I think the shutdown is inappropriate,” Castro said. “There are over a million employees who are working without pay right now, and not only does that have a negative effect on the economy, but a lot of those people are depending on that money. Like people who live paycheck to paycheck, what are they going to do?”
From an economic and social standpoints, this shutdown can only cause problems.
Who is this shutdown helping?
The U.S. government is supposed to be by the people, for the people, yet they are allowing this shutdown to continue, even though it is hurting the economy and its own people.
Health insurance may be the highest cause of bankruptcy in the U.S., but it is also one of the highest incomes. Republicans believe that this bill is going to hurt the economy, because health insurance won’t be as expensive, and they won’t gross as much money from it.
“I don’t understand why Republicans believe it’s literally the worst thing that’s happened to America, to give people affordable health insurance,” Castro said. “Many other countries offer national health coverage, and they’re doing good in terms of the economy.”
Clark shared similar sentiments.
“We make people get car insurance, and nobody is upset about that,” Clark said. “You never know if you’re going to be the one hit by the car, that’s why it’s necessary. It’s the same thing for health insurance. If someone gets sick, other people can cover them, and they don’t go into debt.”
Another repercussion of the shutdown, perhaps the biggest one yet, will occur on Oct. 17, should the shutdown remain unfixed. That day marks the deadline to pay other countries who lended to the U.S.
What happens if we don’t pay?
“Suddenly, we become really risky,” Clark said. “Every month we spend more money than we take in. So what happens is that we have to borrow money each month. The main way we borrow money is that we sell treasury bonds. We are seen as a very good credit risk in the world. When world investors are looking for where to put money in a safe place, they put it in U.S. treasury bonds.”
As stated earlier, this would lead our interests rates to increase, and it would also change the country’s status from secure to risky. Citizens in the U.S. enjoy the luxury of living in a relatively secure country that isn’t at war with itself or in dire need of food or water.
If the folks in Washington can’t come to some sort of agreement, this could affect our country in terms of unemployment, recession and shortages.
What can you do to help?
Clark encouraged people to call their congressmen and senators.
“They really listen,” Clark said. “All you have to do is call and leave a comment, and they tally all the comments together. When people care enough to call, they know that something has to change. If enough people called, it would really push them to make a change.”