If you are anything like me, you watch the clips of politicians talking about the shutdown and sometimes walk away more confused than before you decided to attempt to inform yourself. Perhaps Washington actually tries to confuse us, but that is an issue to be tackled on a different day. Right here, right now we are going to break the government shutdown into something us common folk can wrap our minds around.
The Shutdown Back Story
Most of us know the shutdown is due to a stand-off between the House of Representatives (Republican majority) and the Senate (Democratic majority). The president does play a role in this, but he and the Senate are on the same page concerning this issue, so for the purposes of simplicity we will assume they are one and the same.
The shutdown is not something that sprang up overnight as some may have you think. This train left the station back in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA and Obamacare — same thing) became the law of the land. The House of Representatives has been fervently trying to repeal the law ever since.
A repeal of a law can happen in one of two ways. The first way is pretty much what you would think, a statute is written that states the law is annulled, abolished, exists no more. The second way to repeal a law is through something called an implied repeal. An implied repeal is when another statute contains provisions that would make the previous law impossible to implement.
The Failure of the GOP to Repeal the Law: One Last-Ditch Effort
The House of Representatives could not get the ACA repealed in over 40 votes and 3 years. Many Republicans, like Senator John McCain from Arizona, admitted defeat by calling the continued attempt by Republicans a “fool’s errand.” Why would some Republicans accept defeat now instead of 3 years ago when the bill actually was signed into law? Well, the deadline of Sept. 30th was fast approaching and it was time to pass the upcoming years budget. That budget would contain the monies needed to implement the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in January of 2014.
How Obamacare Factored into the Shutdown
If a budget was not passed by Sept. 30th at midnight then the government would shutdown. However, despite the impending detriment to the country, some Republicans, like Ted Cruz, the junior Senator for the state of Texas, and John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, refused to concede defeat. They then began efforts to defund the ACA.
What is Defunding?
To defund a law, such as the ACA, means to ensure by statute that no federal dollars would go toward the implementation of the law. Technically the ACA would still be the law of the land, but with no money allocated to it, it would stalemate the project. So the only budgets proposed by the House of Representatives contained no monies allocated to the Affordable Care Act. This tactic was not well received by the democratically controlled Senate (or the President). They would not pass the budget.
So What Ended up Happening?
As most people already know, September 30th came and went and the government did shut down. It is like if you had your paycheck cashed and you had the money you needed to pay your power bill but you did not actually take the money to them. The government works the same way. They are still charging taxes and have billions in revenue coming in, but the House of Representatives wont drive the money to where it needs to be. If the House of Representatives and Congress cannot come to an agreement on the budget and the president does not sign off on it soon then America will default on their debt. The president is also asking for the debt ceiling to be raised and if you recall this has been an ongoing battle basically since President Obama took office.
If Raising the Debt Ceiling a Major Big Deal?
I am going to take this time to point out that while some economist say we should spend more and some saying we should spend less, raising the debt ceiling is nothing new. Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, Bush raised it 7. The Republicans who are refusing to raise the debt ceiling for the president now are the same ones who raised it to cover the cost of a war without blinking an eye. It is somewhat difficult to believe, at this point, that this isn’t personal to our president.
What Happens if We Default?
Catastrophic global economic failure is a possibility. See, no one knows what will really happen because it has never been done in the history of ever. That’s right folks, Republicans are so dead set on you and I not receiving affordable healthcare and in turn, Barack Obama getting the credit, that they are willing to be the first to attempt to fly by jumping off a cliff with an umbrella. Here is one of my favorite journalist discussing the possibilities of a default.
“EMBED CODE FROM THIS VIDEO HERE”
What Has to Happen for All of This to be Settled?
- The House of Representatives must propose a written budget.
- The Senate must approve the budget.
- The president must sign the budget.
Is It That Simple?
Well the Republicans are now saying that they would accept a provision in the bill that would postpone the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for one more year although the law has been delayed 3 years already considering it was signed in 2010. Congress and the president have both made it very clear that they will not negotiate or tamper with the Affordable Care Act until a continuing resolution is passed, which is just a fancy way of saying that Congress wants a budget passed and the entire government fully up and running before discussing anymore concessions.
Are There Any Republicans Who Are Willing to Pass a Clean Continuing Resolution?
As of late more Republican House members have said that they would vote yes on a continuing resolution and if those Reps follow through on that vote then the House would have the 22 votes needed to gain majority. Here is a list of the Rep. House members who support the clean continuing resolution bill with no strings attached.
- Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
- Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.)
- Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.)
- Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.)
- Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.)
- Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.)
- Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.)
- Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.)
- Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)
- Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.)
- Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)
- Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.)
- Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
- Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash)
- Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)
- Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.)
- Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)
Great, so it’s a done deal?
Sounds great right? There is a catch, the Speaker of the House of Representatives (R-John Boehner) must call for a vote and so far is refusing to do so. Doesn’t seem very democratic of him does it? Well that is why I am also including a handy dandy quick reference for discussing the shutdown with members of The Grand Old Party. I do not think these words mean what they think they mean.
- democracy– government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
- compromise– an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims by a reciprocal modification of demands: President Obama compromised on the ACA by delaying it 3 years and now Republicans want it delayed again.
- defeat– to overcome in a contest, election, battle, ect.; prevail over; vanquish: President Obama defeated the Republicans, not once, but twice in the bid for the presidency.
Hopefully this has helped you to better understand the shutdown. Now that you are informed, get involved. Contact the Senators and Representatives in your state and demand they pass a clean continuing resolution today!
About Liberal America writer Amanda Fleming:
I am a single mother of three girls but i have a great support system so I don’t consider myself a single parent really. I’ve had enough college to know that the world has problems but not so much that I can’t still claim ignorance ;). I am passionate about everything. I do not know how to only commit partially to anything (except housework perhaps:/) I love to write but as most creative types are, ” I am sensitive about my shit!” as erica badu put it so eloquently. I am eternally optimistic, often to my demise. That is not to say I can’t get fired up about politics. I could go on for days and I will add more later but for now I got a world to change. Ttys 🙂