The 2014 fiscal year begins on Tuesday, October 1, which means it’s time for the government’s healthy dose of internal combustion. In a classic power ploy, both Congress and the President have decided to play a game of chicken with the US federal budget (again).
So what exactly is going down in this Capital Hill clusterfuck? NYU Local has your guide to the government shutdown, 2013 edition.
US Federal Budget: 101
The Constitution requires that all spending bills originate in the House of Representatives. Each year, the president must submit a budget to the Congressional Budget Office, which analyzes the president’s proposal and sends recommendations to the House and Senate. Both chambers pass budgets, and any discrepencies between the two bills are resolved by a conference committee. The final version of the budget is sent to the president, who either signs or vetos the bill.
All of this, of course, is in a perfect world. In our world, the president issues a budget proposal that gives him everything he wants, Congress scoffs at it, and they all play with themselves until someone realizes that the government is on the verge of financial collapse.
Think that’s a too harsh? The last time Congress passed a budget was April 29, 2009. In recent years, the government has been funded via continuing resolutions, which “provide for the temporary funding of government operations” in order to avoid a shutdown. If no bill and no resolution is passed by Oct. 1, then shutdown it will.
So, What’s The Problem Now?
House Republicans — particularly those with ties to the Tea Party — hate the Afforable Care Act, Obama’s healthcare legislation signed into law back in 2012. They especially hate the mandate requiring all uninsured Americans to obtain healthcare “through a series of state health care exchanges” — which will be implimented on Oct. 1. Republicans are using the budget as a way to stop Obamacare, while the Democratic majority in the Senate is working to protect the president’s signature legislation. Meanwhile, President Obama has vowed to veto any budget that defunds the Afforable Care Act.
What Will Happen If The Government Shuts Down?
There’s a lot of literature about what will and will not be affected if the government can’t resolve the budget by Oct. 1. While National Parks and the Smithsonian would be required to close and the garbage in DC may go uncontrolled, members of Congress can still expect paychecks (yay!) and national defense can still expect discretionary spending.
While the financial repercussions of a government shutdown may not seem outrageous, using the federal budget to play hardball is unnecessary, inefficient, and just plain unacceptable. Eighty-Four percent of Americans agree — and when was the last time 84 percent of Americans agreed on anything?! Whatever position one has on “socialized healthcare,” it is absolutely ridiculous for the people we elected as leaders to be so callous in their roles.
Somehow, those in charge found a way to make our already inefficient government even more inefficient.
Of course, we’ll (likely) avoid a shutdown. Both sides will (likely) reach an agreement as the clock strikes midnight and all will (likely) be well; we will have narrowly avoided another crises. That is, until three weeks from now, when Congress must reach an agreement on the debt ceiling or risk sequestration (again).
Those politicians sure know how to run a government.