By VERONICA BOYD
It is day 10 of the first government shutdown in 17 years, and there is currently no end in sight. Washington D.C. is practically at a standstill, Congress is sending bills back and forth with no compromises and more than 80,000 nonessential government personnel are furloughed while thousands more must work without pay until the shutdown ends.
These “nonessential” employees are the very people who run our government’s day-to-day affairs. If these employees were truly nonessential, unnecessary or additional, then the government would not be affected by their absence.
It is extremely disheartening that this entire population of American citizens are able to be temporarily let go at a moment’s notice, when the officials they voted into office to protect and ensure their rights are unable to do their jobs.
My mother and my next door neighbor are two of the thousands of government employees deemed nonessential. They are both the breadwinners in their families and they were both given official notification on Sept. 30 that if their elected officials could not compromise by midnight, they would be home without pay until further notice. My mother given another notice on Oct. 7 telling her to return to work on Oct. 8, without pay until the end of the shutdown.
Our government believes it is okay to inform thousands of American citizens they will either not need to come to work and therefore will not be paid, or will not be paid but still need to report to work the day before they are suppose to report.
It is even more troubling that some ranking officials do not seem to care about the welfare of the American people.
In an interview with Fox News, Republican strategist, Jack Burkman said,” I don’t have any sympathy for government workers. I think they’re the biggest bunch of cry-babies in the world.”
“A [government] shutdown is essential at this point…it is the only way to enforce the hard discipline and the need for spending cuts,” said Burkman
I do not understand how someone can be so unsympathetic and insensitive to so many American citizens. These are people, most with families, who depend on them and their paycheck to live.
How can there be no sympathy or interest in how these people are going to take care of their families?
Nor do I understand how a shutdown, which costs the government, and in turn the American people, millions of dollars every day is at any time essential.
There are, however, Republican officials that do recognize the adolescent behavior being displayed in Congress.
Republican Sen. Eric Cantor (VA-7), said during last minute debates before the midnight deadline last week, “Now is the time for the Senate to act, the stubborn refusal to work across the aisle is the reason why Americans today are so frustrated by what they see in Washington.”
With the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, and the Democrats controlling the Senate, the tense dichotomy between the ideologies of the two parties is causing the American public to have little faith that decisions will be made soon. This lack of faith is not at all ill-formed.
With the evidence seen throughout the past two weeks, how can the American people have any faith?
Congress officials are behaving like children.
They refuse to compromise or even to have conversations with one another. They are not looking at the bigger picture of thousands of people out of work, and the daily economic toll of the shutdown.
Many may be tempted to argue that a shutdown lasting a few days, or even a week, is not going to cripple the American economy or leave the furloughed employees and their families homeless and starving, and that is true.
However, this particular shutdown had impeccably horrible timing.
Our economy has surely seen better days, as has our job market. American families in general have in the past been far more financially stable. Congress shows no signs of compromising, which means there is no certainty about how long the shutdown could last. Not to mention the fast approach of the debt ceiling deadline on Oct. 17, which could result in the first ever U.S. default on debt. With all these combined factors, this shutdown is by no means tolerable.
If Congress is unable to agree on healthcare and necessary budget cuts now how is one to expect they are going to be able to make decisions about national budget cuts and ways to reduce and pay off the national debt, especially if that deadline comes, and the government is still shutdown.
America seems to be facing more problems and questions than solutions and answers these days, but right now all focus needs to be on Capitol Hill.
It is not hard to realize that we cannot do anything else until our government is in working order and our debt is being managed.