Anarchy in the U.S.?
Since early Tuesday morning, a lot of folks have been talking about the ongoing (though it may have ended by the time this goes to print) government shutdown.
A lot of what is being said is true, a lot of what is being said is false and a lot of what is being said lies somewhere in the middle.
The national media, for its part, has done an awful job of telling us what is going on, why it is going on and what can be done about it.
We’d like to take a moment to clear up any and all misconceptions out there about the big, bad government shutdown that’s currently affecting each and every one of us in some way, shape or form.
First and foremost, the government shutdown does not mean that the government shuts down entirely.
The federal government has essentially failed to pass a budget for the next fiscal year (which began Tuesday, Oct. 1).
This has happened before – the last such government shutdown occurred when Bill Clinton was president and Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House in 1996.
This means that all federal employees deemed “non-essential” will be furloughed, or laid off, until a budget is passed by Congress and signed by the president, restoring funding for their jobs.
The “non-essentials” in question? More than 800,000 people who help keep our national parks up and running, work to develop cures for life-threatening diseases at the National Institutes of Health and comb the skies and stars to make sure there aren’t any asteroids that could possibly impact the Earth and wipeout human life as we know it – “non-essential” indeed.
Members of the armed forces are still on the job and still getting paid.
This is a common misconception that reporters on many major news networks have continually gotten wrong even as the shutdown took place on Tuesday. The Department of Veterans Affairs is, however, a victim of the shutdown, and it may yet take the Social Security Administration longer to process checks to recipients as a result of the shutdown, though as of this writing, the Republican Congress is working on bills to fund the VA and the National Park Service.
What does all this have to do with Obamacare?
This is another area where the national media has ultimately failed the public in reporting the issue.
Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, was passed in 2010 by the then Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. The Republican Party took back control of Congress in November 2010, took office in January 2011 and have voted 34 times to repeal Obamacare since taking office.
Unfortunately for the Congressional Republicans, the Democrats still control the Senate and thus have the power to block that repeal from becoming law by voting it down.
What does all this have to do with Obamacare?
The Republicans have decided to add a provision to their proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget that would delay implementation of most of Obamacare until Jan. 1, 2015.
It will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, although open enrollment in the program is now open.
The Republicans know the Senate will never approve this delay and that the President will never sign it – thus the game of chicken being broadcast into our living rooms.
We here at The News would like to berate the national media for its role in creating this crisis.
The national media has done more than the president or Congress to make this a reality with the style of “he said, she said” reporting that has come to dominate any and all political news read in this country.
Likewise, the failure of the national media to actually research what the government shutdown would mean beforehand, and instead focus on the personality of the players involved, is a travesty.
Most of the national media figures today, be they on Fox, CNN or NBC (or any of the other major news networks) have seen this story before – and it seems they would rather report on the internal drama of it all rather than inform the public of its importance.
That’s not us.
We won’t leave you in the dark because a bunch of politicians have decided that it’s best to lay off 800,000 decent, hard-working Americans while continuing to collect paychecks that should make them all blush.
The News is dedicated to getting the story straight and getting it to you in the most readable format with all the up-to-the minute updates and information that we have.
If the national media wants to make this tragedy (and that’s exactly what it is for those 800,000 workers laid off, their families and communities) into little more than an episode of “House of Cards,” so be it.
The News strives to be the ‘go-to’ source for news for our campus and our community, in covering both local and national events, so don’t worry, we’ll pick up the slack where the NBCs and CNNs of the world fail.