Government shutdown

Mark Twain once said “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” That pretty much sums up my opinion on congress and the current government shutdown.

For those who aren’t as familiar with the situation, the federal government has shut down. What this means is all non essential programs and services run by the federal government (such as the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian)  have officially been shut down and other programs (such as NASA, EPA, etc.) will have their staff cut back severely.

The next question is how did this happen? Quite simply, Congress is in charge of passing bills that fund the government, and the Republicans and Democrats refuse to work with each other to come to an agreement they would both be happy with. The Republicans keep trying to undermine the Health Care Reform act — otherwise known as Obamacare — whereas the Democrats refuse to accept any alterations.

Now, I don’t believe it’s the fault of either party specifically. I believe it is both of their faults.

Now that the government is shut down, the first priority of both sides is to blame the other side. Instead of, you know, actually fixing anything.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why should this matter to me? After all, it’s just the non-essential programs that were shut down.

Actually, it should matter quite a bit for college students like you.

Perhaps most importantly, it will affect student loans. The Washington Post reports that if the shutdown is prolonged, the payments could be delayed because there wouldn’t be enough people to process it. Also Inside Higher Ed reports that, “The department plans to furlough employees who support campus-based aid programs such as Federal Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.”

Secondly, there has been a big push, at least around election times, to get college students to go out and vote. Chances are this government shutdown and it’s negative impacts will be used as a weapon by both sides against the other sides. In fact, it has already started.

As I said before, I believe both parties share equal blame. Yes, the GOP is being unreasonable by only suggesting solutions that would undermine the already existing Obamacare. However, the Democrats are being just as unreasonable by refusing to accept any compromise whatsoever that involve any alterations to Obamacare.

Because both parties only speak in hyperbole or ad hominem attacks, it can be difficult for any college student to determine the facts of a situation. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has blamed the GOP entirely, and House speaker John Boehner blames the Democrats, specifically the health care law. Both parties are too busy trying to look like innocent victims that neither are trying to focus on a solution.

Here are the facts: Obamacare has already been passed, and it won’t be affected by the government shutdown at all, so this tactic is not effective in any way especially since the shutdown is already being blamed entirely on the GOP. However, this country is trillions of dollars in debt, and Obama seems to believe that the only way to fix that is by spending more money.

In my last article, I said how important it was that college students kept a strict budget. Imagine if you had several hundred thousand dollars of credit card debt, and your solution to that was to spend even more money on things you didn’t need, like a new flatscreen or a PS4. That is what Congress is doing now. Republicans will only present a solution that involves cutting programs that they don’t like, and Democrats will only present the solution of raising the debt ceiling or even higher taxes. What they need to do is to decrease spending in any way possible.

The lesson that you can take away from this, is never try to solve your problems like Congress does. Both parties are trying to assign external blame for their own failing instead of taking personal responsibility, admitting failure or making a legitimate effort to change. As college students, it is easy for us to act like these politicians and assign external blame for personal failings. For example, last semester my grades weren’t as good as they could have been. At first I made excuses. I had two jobs; I was moving into a new apartment; I had a lot of classes. But at the end of the day, those grades were my own fault.

Had I done what Congress did and tried to assign external blame, my grades would be even worse this semester. However, it is only once you take personal responsibility for your failures, that you can actually begin to fix anything.