Now that the dreaded government shutdown is over, what happens to the budget, the Affordable Care Act, and the well-being of the US economy? Some of the answers may be controversial or opinionated but others are more concrete. Since 2011, the government has consistently kicked the can down the road regarding the debt ceiling along with sequesters. The deal that reopened the government funds the government until January 15. Since the reopening of the government, the Treasury Department will permit debt as need through February 7, with no specific limit. Therefore, February 7, 2014 may look and seem extremely similar to the past few weeks of budget dealing. With no actual debt ceiling, couldn’t the Treasury Department issue an obnoxious amount of debt in order to prevent a future ceiling debate? Although it seems like an option, it actually is against the law, which specifically prohibits the Treasury Department from issuing debt that goes beyond the actual spending of the government. Ultimately, the longer Congress kicks the can filled with the US government’s debt down the road, the more possibilities of government shutdowns will linger, along with all of their consequences.
The entire government shutdown argument quickly shifted its focus over the weeks of the shutdown. It all started with the repeal, defunding or delay of different aspects of the Affordable Care Act, but as time went on, the topic swiftly maneuvered its way into a debt ceiling, spending and Affordable Care Act debacle. The initial issue,“Obamacare”, made it out of the deal to reopen the government nearly untouched. The only part of “Obamacare” that was delayed in the deal was the collection of reinsurance contributions. The Transitional Reinsurance Program within “Obamacare” will reimburse health insurance providers who welcome high-cost individuals. Essentially, the anti-Obamacare Republicans throughout the Senate and House only delayed a minute aspect of the health care law.
The economic effects of the government shutdown seem to be clear as of now. According to an economist at Standard & Poor’s, the government shutdown cost the U.S. economy approximately $24 billion. Spending at chain retail stores across the country fell .7% during the shutdown, while mortgage applications dropped nearly 5%. Auto sales felt the shutdown as well with a 2% drop. Overall, the government shutdown only hurt the economy.
Whether one blames the Democrats, Republicans, Congress, or President Obama for the government shutdown, there were certainly failures of political action on the right side of the aisle. Alongside of the government shutting down on October 1, the exchanges of “Obamacare” opened. For sixteen days, almost every media outlet in the country focused largely on the government shutdown, its consequences, who caused it and so on. In the meantime, the website that allows Americans access to enrollment into the Democrat endorsed health care plan malfunctioned, denying the people access to enroll. Hypothetically, if the Republicans in Congress would have initially passed a clean budget resolution, avoiding a shutdown, the entire focus of media for the past weeks would have been on initial failures of “Obamacare”. This would have placed the ball in the Republicans court and worked in their advantage on the issue, but due to the budget battle these failures in the healthcare law were placed on the back burner. For the Republican controlled House, the failures of “Obamacare” as the headline news would have been much better than the failures of Congress, especially since many Republicans voted against the deal to end the unfavorable government shutdown.
The most frustrating part of these government battles is that pressing issues such as immigration, unemployment and education get little attention if any. With such a primary focus on budgets and government spending, problems that affect every day Americans lose their importance.