IMPACTS OF THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN & WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
The shutdown that closed out 2018 and opened the new year is hardly a new phenomenon – in fact, it’s the third of this administration – but it’s unique in its details. At a month in, this shutdown is now the longest in American history.
While the effects on popularity for lawmakers and presidents caused by a shutdown are generally short-lived, parties usually loathe continuing the shutdown longer than necessary.
That’s because while the immediate effects of the shutdown might not be felt by the general populace, a shutdown can have a significant impact on the ability to govern, and there’s a snowball effect to shutdowns the longer they extend. Most of the agencies shut down have a reserve of cash that allows them to continue at least their essential services for some time, but the longer a shutdown persists, the more crippled they become.
As the shutdown concludes its fourth week, these effects are already being felt. While promises have been made that tax refunds will be delivered on time, despite the shutting down of the IRS, the first round of paychecks has been held by workers that have been furloughed or asked to work through the shutdown. Effects are being felt in national parks as well. While it’s been long reported that trash is piling up in a number of national parks, many of them have continued to stay open. That’s changing as park rangers recognize that keeping the parks open is simply not sustainable. Most notably affected is Joshua Tree National Park, which has seen trees cut down without the resources to contain visitors.
Presently 800,000 government workers are continuing without pay. Roughly half are furloughed, with the other half being promised decompensation once the government reopens. The effect on the economy is just as dire. It’s estimated that every week a shutdown occurs shaves .1% off of GDP growth for the year. Nine agencies are currently without funding, and all attempts to push through bills that would provide them with relief have been rejected.
And there doesn’t seem to be any signs of respite in sight. Both the president and the Democrats have dug in on their impasse, with the former demanding $5.7 billion for the building of a wall and the latter refusing a wall on any terms. While some have floated the notion of trading wall funding in return for provisions for DACA recipients, the White House shows no sign of being amenable to those terms. And despite some signs that some in the Republican Party are chafing under Presidential demands, there’s no sign that there’s enough content to push through a veto-proof bill in Congress. That would require two-thirds of the House to vote in favor. For now, all parties seem involved in a standoff with the sake of American people at stake, which is why, now, more than ever, it is time for the American people to stand together and let their voices be heard. Not sure how you can help? Here are a few ways you can take a stance and help those affected by the government shutdown:
Contact your representative
To truly make your voice heard, pick up the phone and call the people who are representing you. Ask your senators, congressmen, and representatives to have conversations about the shutdown and border security and urge them to act. Request a meeting or attend a town hall to share your story and to explain how the government is affecting those in your community.
Volunteer your time
While many national parks are open during the shutdown, many are unstaffed. Volunteer your time to help clean up national parks. There are also plenty of other ways you can volunteer to help local organizations who are assisting those who are going without pay. Talk to your local community officials to see where you can help!
Donate to nonprofits and agencies that are in dire need of assistance. Research the organizations and issues that mean the most to you and learn how you can support them through the shutdown by a monetary donation. If you don’t have much money to donate, gather nonperishable foods and items to take your local food pantry and shelters. Funding for government-assisted programs that provide food and assistance to people in need are in need of support now more than ever.
Share the message
Many restaurants and organizations are offering support to government employees that are without pay. Whether it be a free meal or assistance in some other manner, share the positive message and promote the businesses making a difference in your community.