The Government shutdown… Again

Elizabeth Thorell, Staff Writer

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During late December of 2018, the government shut down for what was seemingly an interminable amount of time for those who suffered its devastating effects. This occurred when President Trump refused to sign off on the new budget unless the Democrats capitulated and agreed to fund a wall on the southernmost border of the United States. This endeavour, for which he requested 5.7 billion dollars, was considered an unnecessary and wasteful way to spend money and time by the Democrats, thus creating an argument that shut down the federal government. While some escaped relatively unscathed, others were forced to face the fact that their lives may have been adversely altered due to this shutdown.

While this shutdown had many effects on the country at large, one of the most important was economic. With delays on tax returns, many people could have been seriously affected depending on how prepared they were for a potential delay. With some people living somewhat on the edge in terms of their finances, this delay of several weeks could have meant the difference between having a place to live and food to eat. A specific group of people affected is farmers in terms of their federal loans. Once again, with approximately 80% of Americans in debt, the effect that this halt in the federal government has on the average life of a person can be quite drastic.

Another of the results of this federal halt was its effects on its many federal employees as opposed to a general citizen. While 380,000 employees of the government were simply furloughed, 420,000 were still forced to work with only the promise of getting back pay at the end of the shutdown. Some factions of the government were brought to a standstill and their employees sent home–not working and as a result not being paid. Factions that were deemed essential to the general upkeep of the country continued as usual minus the paycheck.

One such section of the government was the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The job of a TSA agent is to work within an airport to ensure the trustworthiness and safety of 8 million people on airplanes every day. Due to their importance in day-to-day functionality of the country, the TSA continued on despite not having funding. With the expectation that they continue to work in order to keep their jobs, TSA agents in all the airports around the country were forced to work without pay.

Since many people aren’t comfortable working while not being paid, the number of TSA agents who called in sick for this period of time skyrocketed. The main concern that airports had due to this was that wait times would be severely affected, crippling major airports around the country. With their goal of having a maximum wait time of thirty minutes for the average passenger and ten minutes for a premium passenger, airports struggled with the lack of personnel. One example being Miami International Airport which had to close one of its concourses simply because they didn’t have the staff to support it. The airline Delta reported a net loss of over 25 million dollars.

This government shutdown, while important politically, had adverse effects on the average person living in this country. Whether an employee of the government or not, many people don’t realize just how much of an impact the federal government has on day-to-day lives. Studies after previous government shutdowns have shown lasting bouts of depression for weeks after the shutdown has run its course. For people economically affected or affected during their day to day lives as many facets of the government shut down, the government shutdown was able to reach into the lives of the many citizens of the United States during the longest shutdown in history as the government dealt with its internal political debate.