My generation, seems to use a one toe in and a whole foot out approach when it comes to politics and although I used to be one of those people and still slightly am… I do think it’s important that we know and understand what is going on so that when it comes our turn to be leaders of this country we know what not to do ….
So, this morning when I read USA TODAY’s 66 Questions and Answers About The Government Shutdown, I thought I would share a few of the questions that I was scared to ask or asked anyway, to help everyone understand what the heck is going on.
I have never been huge on politics and have had to ask a million dumb questions since I moved to DC, so I know some of you have questions!
1. What causes a shutdown?
Under the Constitution, Congress must pass laws to spend money. If Congress can’t agree on a spending bill — or if, in the case of the Clinton-era shutdowns, the president vetoes it — the government does not have the legal authority to spend money.
2. What’s a continuing resolution?
Congress used to spend money by passing a budget first, then 12 separate appropriations bills. That process has broken down, and Congress uses a stopgap continuing resolution, or CR, that maintains spending at current levels for all or part of the year.
3. Why can’t Congress agree?
The Republican-controlled House has passed a spending bill that maintains spending levels but does not provide funding to implement the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Democratic Senate insists that the program be fully funded and that Congress pass what they call a “clean” CR
5. Why is this happening now?
The government runs on a fiscal year from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Shutdowns can happen at other times of the year when Congress passes a partial-year spending bill.
13. What’s the difference between a shutdown and a debt crisis?
In a shutdown, the government lacks the legal authority to spend money on non-essential services. In a debt crisis, the government is mandated to spend money — but doesn’t have the legal authority to borrow the money to spend it.
17. If the nation hits the debt limit, will government shut down?
That’s a big unknown question. The Treasury Department has said the most likely scenario is that it would delay payments, paying only those bills it can afford, using daily tax revenue.
32. Would a shutdown put the brakes on implementing the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare?”
No. The state-run exchanges for the uninsured would open as scheduled Tuesday. “The marketplaces will be open on Tuesday, no matter what, even if there is a government shutdown,” President Obama said Friday.
33. Why not?
Like Social Security or Medicaid, Obamacare is a permanent entitlement that isn’t subject to annual funding by Congress. “Many of the core parts of the health care law are funded through mandatory appropriations and wouldn’t be affected,” Gary Cohen, the Health and Human Services Department official overseeing the health care rollout, said last week.
52. Why do some federal employees continue to work during a shutdown?
The law — or at least, the Justice Department’s interpretation of it — contains exemptions for several classes of employees: The biggest exemption is for employees necessary to protect public health, safety or property. But property could include government data, ongoing research experiments or other intangibles. Political appointees are exempt because they cannot be placed on leave by law. Employees necessary for the president to carry out his constitutional responsibilities are exempt. Finally, employees whose salaries are paid from sources outside an annual spending bill can still get paid and report to work.
57. Would Congress continue to be paid during a shutdown?
Yes. The 27th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1992, holds that “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.” Intended to prevent Congress from voting itself a raise, it also protects members from a pay cut.
65. What effect would a shutdown have on the economy?
Economists say even a short shutdown — of three or four days — would begin to shave decimal points off economic growth. A sustained shutdown of three or four weeks “would do significant economic damage,” economist Mark Zandi told USA TODAY.
To read more of the questions USA Today offered, click here!
Don’t be scared to ask questions or read up on what is going on in the world around you. Life is bigger than the bubble we exist in and knowledge of what is going on outside of our world is more powerful than we think!