The federal government’s shutdown has caused businesses to stop functioning, civil servants and soldiers to wait for their pay, and all non-essential services to shut down. Even the military was affected because up until October 3rd over 400,000 private military contractors were temporarily out of a job until Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered them back to work under the pretext that national security was at stake. That was half of the over 800,000 employees that were told not to report for work. Even so that means that over 400,000 federal employees are currently unable to go to work and that number may increase because some agencies are only running on temporary funds that may run out if the shutdown continues. However, the question as to how that affects the common person can be difficult to answer.
For those who don’t know the shutdown was caused by House Republicans who voted to defund the federal government when the Democrats refused to meet their demands regarding the debt ceiling and also used it as a means to oppose the implementation of Obama care.
We know of course that many who rely on government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, will be at risk of losing their benefits as those that use programs like WIC, and Head Start already have. With over 400,000 federal workers currently furloughed there is going to be some serious delays in the programs that are still functioning. Other services such as food stamps (SNAP) may be at risk of being defunded.
However, the shutdown will also affect people who don’t use government services as well. The government has closed most parks and monuments as part of the shutdown..
Other agencies that are expected to be cutback include the NHS, the TSA, the IRS (though it will still collect taxes), and even the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Non-government corporations may also furlough workers due to the government shutdown. Even the Federal Court System may cease to operate if the shutdown continues after October 15.
College students may also be affected. The federal government funds research projects that take place at research universities such as UCI, therefore any lack of funding by the government could put many projects on hold. Also many students at UCI and around the country use federal benefits such as those in the GI bill in order to pay for fees, rent, and living expenses may find themselves without the funds they need.
Now that sounds terrible, because of course it is but what makes it worse is that Congress is still getting paid. Many congressmen and senators have sent some of their staff home while they themselves are still getting paid. They are profiting from a political fight of their own making while millions of other Americans lives have been put on hold.
The scope of the shutdown will only become apparent once we know how long it will last and at the point that this is being written neither side is willing to negotiate. Therefore, we urge everyone to plan accordingly so that the damage to your life will be minimal. And those of you who don’t have to rely on government programs should be thankful that you don’t have to worry about skipping meals or not being able to pay rent.