The Government Shutdown, Why?

The Government Shutdown, Why?

A Story by Haley Rhodes

An essay that discusses the government shutdown that happened in October 2013, it informs readers of the different points of view from all those involved and what should have been done to prevent this


October 1st, 2013 was the first time since 1996 in which the government actually ceased non-essential operations. Politicians are refusing to speak to each other, and a compromise does not seem to be coming any time soon. There are many different opinions and different points of view about why the shutdown happened, what caused it, and who is responsible for it. Some say it’s the Republicans fault, some say it’s the Democrats fault, and some say that it’s everyone’s fault and US citizens should be embarrassed to have the leaders of this great country acting so childish. But what is really most important, is not whose fault it is, but rather what will be done now and what is being done to reopen the government. The government shutdown has affected many people and there are many views on what is going on including Democrats, Republicans, and the public’s opinions; all of which are varied and consider different things to be of highest priority.

            Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Health Care Act, is a bill that government has been trying to pass that would influence and affect many people. This piece of legislation is trying to make it so that health care is more affordable for those who do not have it. With Obamacare millions of Americans will either pay little or nothing and receive access to health care benefits to help when medical bills start to pile up (Obamacare 5). However, in order to be able to make this low cost health insurance available to those who need it, the government must impose new taxes, most of which will be heavily applied to high-income citizens (Obamacare 5). The other difficulty is the impact this bill will have on small business. Starting in the year 2015 if a business has more than 50 full-time employees, it will be required to provide health insurance for those employed (Obamacare 5). This would affect business drastically, employees will either have hours cut so that they are no longer full-time or places could go out of business due to a lack of funding for insurance to all employees. There are both pros and cons to Obamacare and currently Republicans do not want Obamacare funding to pass while Democrats want as much funding to go to Obamacare as is possible. Due to the debates over funding for Obamacare, the government has been unable to pass a new spending budget for the next fiscal year. This lack of agreement is what has caused the government to shut down.

            The Democrats have been busy blaming the Republicans for the shutdown. While the Republicans are partially to blame, the Democrats need to accept blame as well. The Republicans have been fighting hard to get rid of Obamacare, and because of their fighting, the Democrats have refused to meet or try to compromise again. Due to the lack of meeting and the refusal to listen coming from the Democrats side, the Republicans have been forced to stand their ground or allow Obamacare to pass and admit deafeat. The Democrats have a very strong stance and believe in Obamacare. “Defunding Obamacare is not going to be a part of the ongoing debate about re-opening the government and increasing the debt limit” (Scott 1). Democrats refuse to get rid of Obamacare, and their stubborn stance and refusal to compromise on anything has caused disturbances between the two sides. Recently Obama came out saying that he “blamed the GOP for what he called ‘The Republican Shutdown’” (Jackson 3). This just caused more issues and less communication between the two parties. Overall, the Democrats the refusal to communicate with the Republicans and constant rejections to Republican suggestions contributed to the government shutdown that has been going on for 16 days. Obamacare has been a subject Democrats and Republicans have been fighting over for quite some time now.

            The Democrats have been supporting Obamacare for over four years, and it seems that they will not be backing down anytime soon. According to New York Daily News, “President Obama and his Democratic allies, betting they can force congressional Republicans into near total surrender regarding the government shutdown and federal debt ceiling, rejected multiple GOP offers Saturday in hopes of a better deal” (Friedman 1). This explains perfectly the Democrats’ point of view. They feel that if they wait long enough then the Republicans will surrender to them and in the end the Democrats will get to keep Obamacare as well as be the stronger party. While the Democrats do have a point in wanting to keep Obamacare alive and thriving, they also must learn to communicate better.

            The Democrats are not the only ones who need to communicate better, the Republicans must learn to communicate as well. While the Democrats have been busy refusing every proposal presented to them, the Republicans have been busy trying to find any way possible to get rid of Obamacare. As Boehner stated, “Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president's health care law will continue” (Cohen 8). Republicans, with their main spokesperson being Boehner, have a strong disliking for the President’s Affordable Health Care Act. The Republican’s involvement in the shutdown is very strong; however, they were correct in trying to communicate and compromise with the Democrats. Where the Republicans failed in their fight for what they wanted is in what they fought for. The Democrats would not be willing to give up Obamacare easily and the Republicans seem to think that they could somehow convince the Democrats to do so. This did not end up happening and the Republicans were foolish to think that it would. As CNN reported, “House Republicans insisted the spending bill include anti-Obamacare amendments” (Cohen 2). Republicans have a very strong opinion on Obamacare and they feel that it should be optional for anyone who qualifies. They say it should not be something the government is forcing on its citizens, but rather should be an option available to help those who would like it.

However, due to the Republicans opposition to Obamacare and their constant attempts to get rid of the program, the majority of the public is blaming Republicans for the shutdown. The graph below is a comparison between the 1996 shutdown and the 2013 shutdown on who the public blames for this lack in leadership. It is clearly shown that in 2013 the blame is more equally divided between Democrats and Republicans than it was in 1996. However, even with this more equal division of blame, the Republicans are still shouldering more of the blame than the Democrats. The Republicans have stood their ground and slowly over time had their views and opinions whittled away by the Democrats until the Republicans’ voice was lost in the Democrats demands.

The public is a very broad group of citizens and within this group there are many opinions. However, even with so many differences in opinion, there is one thing that the public all agrees on, they want the government shutdown to end. Many people have been affected by the shutdown, and in negative ways. Cancer patients are being denied medical treatments due to clinical trials being delayed since the government shut down. As one cancer patient awaiting treatment said, “With the NIH being shut down, they are denying or delaying potentially lifesaving treatments to Americans in need of a miracle. I speak for everyone battling cancer when I say we don't have time to wait” (Payne 6). The public is much opposed to the shutdown, so far 883,392 people have been furloughed and there is still a potential for more to be furloughed in the near future (enigma). The graph shows furloughs that have been given by agencies (O’Connell). As can be seen by the graph, the number of furlough days taken is drastically fewer than the number of days planned. This is good news and is helpful for Americans who have been furloughed, however they should never have been laid off in the first place. The public may be split on who is to blame for the shutdown, but the public all agrees that the government never should have been shut down in the first place. The leaders of this great country should have the common sense and should be mature enough to be able to find solutions to any and all problems without closing the government. Especially without shutting down the government for over half a month. Over all, the government shutdown was a result of stubborn politicians who would not communicate with each other like they should have.

The whole reason the government shutdown was due to one controversial issue. The Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare, and while Obamacare can be viewed as helpful or harmful to the people of this nation, it should not have been enough to close down the government for sixteen days. Not only that, but the government shutdown cost $2 billion dollars in lost pay (Reilly). That is a lot of money lost due to the leaders of the country refusing to communicate with each other. Another one of the main problems was the Democrats refusal to communicate with or compromise with Republicans. Their stubborn stance forced Republicans to stay and stand up for what they believe in which caused a stand still which ended up leading to the shutdown that took place. Overall it was a bad situation that could have been avoided.

The government shutdown and its effects did not end when the shutdown did. Many parks were left vandalized while there was no one there watching over them or working at them (Shear). There is also an overwhelming amount of hatred towards congress and all government workers due to the shutdown. Several business had signs hung up that stated “Members of congress not welcome here” (Shear). The actions the government took, and the ways they chose to solve their problems were very irrational and unreasonable and the public seems to have a general impression that the shutdown was a waste of time and resources. The US Constitution Museum alone estimates that it lost $7,000 a day in revenue due to the lack of business because they were forced to shut down when the government shutdown occurred (Shear). All of this goes to show that the leaders of this nation need a reality check. They seem to live in a fantasy world where there are no repercussions for their childish actions, however that isn’t true. The fact of the matter is that the shutdown was an unnecessary waste of time that affected a large number of people.

In my personal opinion, the way the government is being run and managed seems to not be working. It seems to be an unsuccessful set up that just leads to arguments and failure. Having two sides that have different points of view trying to manage and run a nation while all other minority parties barely get any say in decisions being made seems to be a recipe for disaster. I think that we should start new, start fresh and completely get rid of the current system. It may have worked once, but it no longer works. I don’t think that we should just switch to another system, from what I can tell there has not really been any system that has worked well for many centuries continuously. I think we should invent a whole new system. A system in which there are no parties, and there are no sides.

When the shutdown finally ended, President Obama gave a speech. Within this speech, he stated “We all know that we have a divided government right now” (The White House). This itself is proof that the system being used to run the country is not working. Lincoln himself many years ago stated “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Lincoln). And yet, here in the year 2013, the house is divided. It is no longer a standing working government, it is broken and no longer working. It is time for a new system, a better system, with new members. A fresh start in which the old is gotten rid of a new idea and way of thinking is born. In schools students are now being taught to be creative, use their imagination and come up with new ideas. If this type of thought process and encouragement of creativity was applied to the way the country is run, just imagine what a great strong unified nation could come out of it.

This nation has a lot of potential, there are many brilliant minds as well as brilliant leaders living in and being a part of this country. There is a lot of potential and a lot of room for growth. All that must happen is change. Five years ago Barack Obama became president of this great nation. His campaign slogan at the time was “Time for change” (Baker). That was five years ago, and yet there still seems to be no change. The economy is still trying to bounce back, people are still having trouble finding jobs, and the nation is still in debt and struggling. Life has not improved that much from five years ago, the change has not happened yet. But it’s time to stop waiting around for change to happen, it is time to stop waiting for the leaders of this country to fight back and forth debating over silly little budgets and budget issues. It is time for America as a whole to become one unified strong nation that leads the way and shows all other countries what they should strive to be like and who they should strive to be. The government must stop arguing and come together, start over with a clean slate. Time to find a party for those who are exactly 50/50 split between the Democrats and Republicans views. A new start, a new nation, a whole new potential. Imagine what can be done! How powerful America can be. All it is going to take is a little bit of tweaking and changing to the laws and rulers of this nation. Some of the laws are out dated, they no longer apply to the citizens of this day and age, therefore those laws should be gotten rid of. Some laws are pointless and make no sense, get rid of them. Start over with a clean slate and fresh ideas.

Instead of having parties and sides, why not just have different points of view? People can have different opinions and still all agree on how a nation is run. I think we should still have a president, but we should no longer have a Republican and a Democratic party. Instead of having just two parties, there should be multiple parties, between five and ten different parties all bringing different ideas and different perspectives to the table. Each should have several members representing their party in congress and all parties should have approximately the same number of representatives. No one party should be overwhelmingly more present than another. Along with this, the parties should listen to the public more, and the public should participate more in how the country is run. In the 2012 election, only forty-seven percent of men voted and only fifty-three percent of women within this nation (Demographics of How Groups Voted). Overall that means approximately half of the population voted in the last election. If this country is going to continue to be a nation that is “of the people, by the people, for the people” (Lincoln) then that means that the majority of the population should be contributing in how this nation is run. In order for the majority to rule fairly, the majority must also vote and offer their opinions on how and who should run this great nation. Two parties is not enough for everyone’s different opinions and views to fit in, more parties must exist. And not just exist, but also participate and be included in running this country.  

Not only should the nation start anew. But the nation should start younger. Most of the leaders of this country are quite elderly. I feel that as a country that is trying to become, as well as continue to be, a great nation, all people should get a say. And not just with a vote, there should not be a minimum age requirement to serve in congress or be a judge. As long as the person is a legal resident and is an adult then everyone should get an equal chance. Allow some of the youth to have a say! Our congress should not be composed of all 40+ years old gentlemen and women. Younger people are more in tune with their generation, they understand and know what the youth of the nation want, some of them should be allowed to be part of congress. There should be several spokesmen and women for the youth of this nation who bring the ideas of younger generations and present them to the older generations so that everyone can work together and create a strong leading force. Young and old should work together just as men and women should work together, no one should be excluded due to age or sex or race. Isn’t that what this country is about? Freedom? So give the people the freedom they deserve! Let everyone have a voice and be able to use it.

Our government used to be strong, and for a while it had been. The last shutdown had occurred in 1996. But sadly a shutdown did occur, for sixteen days. Our nation is falling apart, the leadership in our leaders is lacking, and more and more laws are being created. There are a very high number of criminals within this country, as well as a very high number of products and acts that are illegal. Most of which are meant to protect the citizens and people of this country, some of which are pointless and should be gotten rid of. It’s time for a fresh start, new leaders, new laws, and a new outlook on life. America is a strong country, and if this country and its leaders can’t solve simple problems and come up with compromises on its own then what is this country showing the rest of the world? America used to fight for freedom, and now its leaders are fighting over whether or not we should be forcing people to have Obamacare. This country was founded on the idea of freedom, and yet now that seems to be all it is, is an idea. Time for it stop being an idea and go back to being a reality. America: the land of the free.



Works Cited:

Baker, Peter, and Jeff Zeleny. "Obama Repeats a Campaign Staple: Time for Change." The New York Times [New York] 30 Oct. 2008: A27. Print.

Cohen, Tom. "Senate Approves Bill to End Shutdown, Avert Possible Default." CNN. Cable News Network, 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Cohen, Tom. "U.S. Government Shuts down as Congress Can't Agree on Spending Bill."CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

"Demographics of How Groups Voted in the 2012 Presidential Election." Demographics of How Groups Voted in the 2012 Presidential Election. Roper Center, 6 Nov. 2012. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.Downie, James. "The Party of Spoiled Brats." Washington Post. N.p., 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Friedman, Dan, and Stephen Rex Brown. "As Shutdown Reaches Day 13, Democrats Reject GOP Offers - Await Better Deal." NY Daily News. N.p., 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

"Government Shutdown 2013." -. N.p., 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Jackson, David. "Obama to Republicans: Reopen the Government." USA Today. Gannett, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Lincoln, Abraham. “House Divided Speech.” Springfield, IL. 16 June 1858. Keynote Address. Web. 25 Nov. 2013

"ObamaCare: Pros and Cons of ObamaCare." ObamaCare: Pros and Cons of ObamaCare. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

O'Connell, Michael. "How Many Furlough Days Did Feds Actually Take? -" Federal News Radio. N.p., 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Payne, Ed. "The Government Shutdown: Americans on the Edge." CNN. Cable News Network, 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Reilly, Sean. "OMB: Shutdown Cost $2 Billion in Lost Pay." Federal Times. Gannett Company, 7 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. 

Schaffer, Michael. "The New Republic." New Republic. N.p., 8 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Shear, Michael. "Government Gets Back to Business, But Effects of the Shutdown Linger."The New York Times [New York] 18 Oct. 2013: A15. Print.

Scott, Dylan. "House GOPer: Defunding Obamacare Is 'Off the Table'" Talking Points Memo. N.p., 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. Remarks by the President on the Reopening of the Government. The White House: President Barack Obama, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.


© 2014 Haley Rhodes

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Added on January 5, 2014
Last Updated on January 5, 2014
Tags: government, shutdown, congress, house of representatives, republican, democrat


Haley Rhodes
Haley Rhodes

Flagstaff, AZ

Why? Why?

A Story by Haley Rhodes