Pawning the American People

Andrea Lee and Abigail Bovard
Staff Reporters

The government shutdown reportedly cost economy 11 billion dollars, according to the Budget Office. Photo courtesy of wildpixel, Getty Images/iStockphoto.
Photo made by Brianna Buchanan.

One of the most secure jobs in the country was supposed to be working in the government but not anymore. On Dec. 22, 2018 the longest government shutdown in America’s history went into effect leaving about 800,000 government workers without pay and 40 million people without government assistance.

This shutdown affected the lives of many and was all caused because the President wanted one thing: a wall. President Trump wanted more than 5 billion dollars to fund his wall that he previously said America would not be funding. On his campaign trail, Trump kept saying that he would build a “great wall” and that Mexico would pay for it. A statement he has recently denied ever saying.   

After 35 days, the shutdown finally ended on Jan. 25, 2019 with threats of it shutting down again on Feb.15, 2019 if an agreement on the wall is not finalized. By threatening to have another shutdown, Trump is putting a price on American lives – the very people he is supposed to help. Imagine having to worry about not having enough money to purchase food for the rest of the month or having to sacrifice not eating a meal that day so another member of your family can eat.

Food shouldn’t only be accessible to those who cannot afford it and with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), low income families and individuals are able to put food on the table.

When the government shutdown began, the first concern we had was the families that receive government assistance. Nearly 40 million Americans receive food stamps and the government only had enough money for them to receive SNAP benefits in January and February. If the government shutdown had continued one more month that would have meant that many families would be left hungry all because Trump cannot let go of his wall. A wall that American money wasn’t supposed to go towards. A wall that stands for hatred and bigotry.

The people who called for the government to shutdown are not even being affected by it. Having to worry about if your family will have enough money to have food in the house is a great burden and hardship that the people who call this shutdown will never have to worry or think about.

In 2013 the government was shut down by, you guessed it, the Republican Party in the House. A plan spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz to have the Senate and then President Obama to defund the Affordable Care Act. Americans receiving SNAP benefits weren’t the only ones worrying about being able to afford food. Government workers were forced to work without pay.

Our current government is at a standstill, neither side will give into the other, leaving many Americans without the assistance they were promised. The Democrats in Congress could not give into Trump’s requests because he would then receive funding for his unjust wall, and Trump could not give in because he would not receive any funding for his wall. Trump even went as far as to bribe the Democrats with extending DACA. Yet, while this showdown was occurring it left thousands of government workers without pay. Thankfully, Trump did give in eventually, but not without consequences.

The shutdown lasted for 35 days or two pay periods. Working for the government used to be a safety net, it meant a steady paycheck and other benefits like healthcare. Now with the government shutting down so easily, the safety net is starting to crumble.

Trump and the Republicans who support him need to realize they are messing with people’s livelihoods when they shutdown the government. They need to realize that just because they are not affected does not mean that others are not suffering. These people work to keep the government in working order, yet they were unable to be paid because of the president’s want for his wall.

If the government shuts down again on Feb. 15, thousands of workers will be out of work again. If it were to last as long as 35 days or even longer, Americans across the country will not be able to afford basic, every day necessities. The Secretary of Commerce and Labor Wilbur Ross had the nerve to tell struggling furloughed workers to take out loans in order to make it through the shut down.

Wealthy men, such as Ross, cannot seem to grasp the concept of government workers not having enough money for housing or even food. Ross could not understand why some government workers had to visit food banks.  Republican leaders, like Ross, do not see the consequences of shutting down the government.

President Trump needs to realize that his wall is not worth the struggle citizens have to face in order to survive. It is vital that the government does not shutdown again. Furloughed workers just got back to work and essential workers were just paid for all of the hard work they put in throughout the shutdown. If another shutdown occurs, they will just go right back to where they started at the beginning of the year. For the benefit of people across the country, it is important that Trump gives up on his pointless border wall.

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