Editorial Comment

Editorial Board

Who pays for the government shutdown


Since late December, the government shutdown has dominated headlines across the country.

While much of the media attention has been directed at the issues and dialogue sprouting from Washington, D.C., this does not capture the real faces of the crisis.

The government shutdown is not truly understood through the angry faces of politicians. The real effects of the shutdown are understood through the people that it places the heaviest burdens on those most vulnerable in our society.

Shutdowns have become more commonplace since budget rules changes that took place in the 1970’s, according to Business Insider. Since the budget rules changed, there have been 19 federal government shutdowns.

These events seem like minor inconveniences to most Americans, but they are incredible burdens on members of our society who rely on the federal government for essential services. To them, these shutdowns elicit tremendous fear and insecurity.

The consequences of shutdowns are seen in the darkened homes of families on the Navajo Nation reservation who were unable to travel the 20-50 miles to buy food, water and medicine due to the halting of federal maintenance on the snow-covered roads, according to the New York Times.

They are seen in the empty accounts of federal food supplement services, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a program focusing on low income seniors; The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, according to Business Insider.

The federal government exists and operates out of necessity, and has a responsibility to provide for those they are sworn to serve.

If shutdowns of similar nature continue to the point of becoming commonplace, we need more legislation and intentionality to plan how we are going to protect the most vulnerable of our population against disproportionately suffering from the consequences of the decisions of those in power.