Editorial: A manufactured crisis

Anyone taking a basic American politics class can tell you that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our elected officials are sent to the Capitol to represent the best interests of the constituents they serve. It is in this regard that our government is currently failing us.

When the House and Senate could not vote on a budget with bipartisan approval before the fiscal year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30), the government immediately shut down. Many Americans now have to question the security of their jobs or government-funded services.

All nonessential government services effectively came to a halt as early as 12:01 Tuesday morning. To prepare for the potential shutdown, bills had already been passed in the House to fund military spending and continue payroll for those enlisted in active military service — but what about the rest of us?

The immediate halt of nonessential government services will have effects both varied and far-reaching. Services such as small business loans, passport requests, national parks, trash collection, federal employee payment, scientific research and the processing of government applications of any kind will be put on hold. According to CNN, more than 783,000 government employees will be forced to sit at home, waiting for the government to reach an agreement.

Why would the federal government jeopardize the livelihood of so many of its people? The inability to reach an agreement can be linked to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is colloquially known. Senate Democrats are insisting that the budget include funding for Obamacare while House Republicans are just as insistent that it not.

A group of Republicans led by Texas’ own Senator Ted Cruz, recently famous for his 21-hour speech last week against Obamacare, are pushing to defund Obamacare even at the expense of government day-to-day operations. Paychecks for members of Congress are considered mandatory, however, and will not be disrupted. In an interview on Sept. 27 with Evan Smith, Editor-in-Chief of The Texas Tribune, Senator Cruz was asked if he would give up his paycheck in the event of a government shutdown. Cruz responded by saying, “I don’t think we should shut down the government. I will confess it is not a question that I will give thought to.”

The possibility of a government shutdown is a manufactured crisis born out of Washington politics. Whether or not citizens agree with the passage of Obamacare, a government shutdown should at no point be an option. We the people elect representatives to aid in government efficiency. No one expects the government to agree on everything ­— or anything for that matter — but the ability to compromise and manage a working government is a basic job requirement for elected officials. Threatening a shutdown is not only inefficient, but also extremely irresponsible.

In a speech that took place minutes before the shut down Monday night, President Obama iterated the services that would end and made it clear that Obamacare would continue unaffected. “One faction of one party of one branch does not get to shut down the government.”