How the Government Shutdown Affects the American People


©The Talon News | Sarah Crowder

The recent government shutdown is nearing record length and effects day to day life on Jan. 9, 2019. (Sarah Crowder / The Talon News)

On Christmas morning, as millions of Americans celebrated the holiday season with their families, President Trump drew a metaphorical line in the sand as he refused to sign in to law several budgets to fund the government over disputes of the border wall. These events have led the government into a shutdown that holds negative consequences for the American people. Becoming one of the longest shutdowns in modern history, many Americans are stuck asking how we got to this point.

The current shutdown goes back to Dec. 6 when Congress decided to delay a government shutdown until after the date of President George H. W. Bush’s funeral. On Dec.11, Democratic leaders and President Trump met to discuss the funding deadline, but the president refused to accept the Democrat’s counteroffer of $1.6 billion for border security; rather than his $5 billion demand. On Dec.19 the Senate passed a short-term funding bill that did not include border wall funding but would keep the government open until early February. At the time, GOP leaders claimed that the president supported the bill, but the next day he changed his tune after hearing attacks from hard-line conservatives, announcing that he would not sign the bill into law without $5.7 billion in funding. As it stands now lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including the White House, refuse to give in to pressure and are sticking with their demands. 

How does this affect the American people?

Some of the more prominent effects of the shutdown stem from the fact that organizations such as the Transportation of Security Administration, National Parks Service, and National Museums- which are closed. Americans are faced with other issues as well. According to the Washington Post, more than 800,000 government employees will be without work and pay during the shutdown, with the sum of their combined salaries being a weekly $1.4 billion. Not only are these Americans involuntarily put in this position, but several other groups are being forced to continue their jobs without receiving their benefits. Tens of thousands of law enforcement personnel will be carrying out their duties this week despite lack of pay. From the F.B.I. and D.E.A. to the Secret Service, many brave men and women will be affected by this shutdown. But it isn’t just government employees who will reap the side effects. Americans who receive aid from the nation’s food stamp program (The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will be forced to find new means to finding food so long as the government is in its current state. According to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as of 2017 42 million Americans received aid from this program. Of these recipients, 68% had families with children and more than 44% were low-income families, making the closure of this program an incredibly dangerous act that puts the lives of millions of Americans in harm’s way. The current government shutdown also has several large and negative impacts on the US economy, with the most visible being the closure of government offices and agencies. This spells disaster for the US economy as business permits and Visas are delayed until after the shutdown ends, and as government employees who won’t be paid are forced to stop spending money, pulling millions of dollars out of the economy. Scott Baker, an associate professor of finance at Northwestern University, also predicts that the average spending power for American households will decrease by what could be over 10%.

All in all, the current government shutdown holds drastic consequences for the American people and is looking to be one of the longest and worst in American history, with both parties using language that suggests they are unwilling to compromise on it.