Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

History repeats with government shutdown

This is not the first time the United States federal government has been shut down. This is not even the first time it’s been shut down by a Republican controlled House of Representatives to prevent a controversial health care bill from passing.
On November 14, 1995, all non-essential federal services were suspended. The Republican controlled House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, had previously threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling to prevent the passing of a Medicare funding bill. The government had no choice but to shut itself down.
During that shutdown, the federal government lost $800 million dollars and millions of U.S. citizens were inconvenienced.
The government resumed on November 19th through the employment of a temporary spending bill, but shut down again from December 16th through January 6th. In the end, the Medicare reforms were passed anyway.
Now, nearly 18 years later, history is repeating itself.
We have so far managed to avoid a funding gap because a budget does exist for the 2014 fiscal year. This is one of the few differences between the two events.
We had everything to learn from the ’95-’96 crisis. We have all the facts and the figures from the ’95 event. We even have firsthand experiences.
Some of the congressmen who caused the shutdown, including Gingrich himself, are still in congress. They are still being paid, even though over 800,000 federal employees are not.
We know what caused the shutdown and what we could have done to prevent it. We even know how to end it, more or less. The only thing we don’t know is how long it will take congress to do so.
The ’95-’96 one was by far the longest and most severe shutdown in America. We can only hope that doesn’t change with the current shutdown.
This shutdown, or indeed, any government shutdown, is a mockery of our legislative system. Our elected members of congress are running from their problems -our problems – when they ought to be taking responsibility.
I disagree with many of the reforms that Obamacare would be responsible for enacting, but I disagree more with congress’ abandonment of the legislative process.
Congress was elected on the condition that they would act with the best interests of the people in mind, not to dissolve the entire legislative system for whatever reason, no matter how temporarily.
For further reading on shutdown policy, visit

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History repeats with government shutdown