By The Lincolnian staff
“All I know is it has something to do with money issues,” said Alex Jones, 20, a senior political science major from California.
So The Lincolnian asked students what they know about the shutdown and tried to find the answers to the most common questions.
1. What does it mean that the government is shut down?
“I honestly believe it’s not truly shut down,” said Shina Pujoue, 20, a junior information technology major from Maryland. “We as a country can’t survive without the government. Yes, offices and building may be closed but America still has a government.”
Yes, the government, the military and other vital services are still operating. But “non-essential” operations—national parks, social programs and others—are suspended.
2. What caused the shutdown?
“I believe it has something to do with the government not having enough money for government jobs,” said Malcolm Levy, 20, a senior history major from New York.
Basically, that’s right. Congress must approve a spending plan every year, and right now they can’t agree on that plan. Without congressional approval, the government can’t spend money.
3. Why can’t Congress agree on a spending plan?
“I don’t know if it has anything to do with the Syria situation,” said Alea Binder, 18, a freshman mass communications major from Lancaster, Pa.
“Congress can’t agree because we are broke and owe in so much debt,” said Shauniqua Barksdale, 20, a junior business management major from Harrisburg, Pa. “Once America stops being so greedy, we can solve our money problems.”
The disagreement doesn’t have to do with Syria or even the federal debt.
The House of Representatives, where Republicans are the majority, want to delay or de-fund the Affordable Care Act, also sometimes called Obamacare. That Act, enacted in 2009, requires almost everyone to have health insurance, either through their employer, the government or through a private market. The Senate, where Democrats are the majority, will not agree to a spending plan that delays or de-funds the health care law, which was championed by President Obama.
4. Why is this happening now?
“Because they don’t have money to pay everyone,” said Ajee Cook, 19, a sophomore from Washington, D.C.
The federal government operates on a fiscal year that runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. When the previous spending plan expired at midnight Monday, Sept. 30, the government had no money to continue operating.
5. When will it end?
“It won’t end until the government has people from all financial classes begging for public assistance while still paying for someone in Congress [to have a] five-star meal,” said Chelsea Small, 20, a junior organizational psychology major from Brooklyn.
That’s a pretty cynical answer. As frustrated as people can be with Congress and other leaders, most people enter politics to serve the public. If voters don’t think they’re doing a good job, they can remove them from office at the next election.
In the past, most government shutdowns have lasted just a few days.