Back to Business: The Great Government Turn-On

National Parks

National parks, monuments, museums and federal agencies reopened on Thursday, October 17 after a 16-day shutdown of the government. (Photo by Chris Bickford, The New York Times)

by Mallika Rao

On October 16th, sixteen days after the 2012-2013 fiscal year ended, Obama signed a bill that rebooted the government and put Washington D.C. back on the nation’s electric bill.

For those that do not know, the shutdown occurred over a disagreement of what to do about Obamacare—the Obama Administration’s healthcare policy that was constitutionalized by the Supreme Court over a year ago. The House of Representatives (the majority of which are of Republicans) have for years felt the urge to repeal Obamacare, while the Senate (the majority of which are of Democrats) feel that Obamacare is beneficial to society. The debate ultimately boiled down to the argument of individual versus society and which matters more.

The government is back in session, but what does this mean now? Politics as we know it are still rather divisive, which further alienates young voters. Now, the Obamacare website has come under fire from GOP critics for its faulty technology. Logging onto the portal has been problematic for most Americans, which adds fuel to an already burnt fire. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, has faced harsh verbal attacks from the opposing party for her part in the website controversy. She has since dodged questions regarding this matter.

Polls indicate that Americans are clearly tired of the chaotic back-and-forth between the Democrats and the Republicans, with most of the blame being placed on the Republican Party. A recent CNN poll indicated that six out of ten Americans believe that John Boehner needs to be replaced. The President’s poll numbers are not the greatest either, but they are certainly better than Boehner’s. The government shutdown only caused Americans to lose further faith in the political system.

College students have certainly felt the wrath of the government shutdown, and are relieved that the chaos is over…for now.  Since federal aid continued to be distributed, inability to access government websites was the biggest concern. Sophomore Bethany Mahoney found it increasingly hard to do homework for her education classes, for “many of the articles and information that [she] needed for [her] various classes were on and/or hosted by government websites.” Sophomore Elizabeth Martinez felt “the shutdown was really scary. People could not access government websites that we have grown accustomed to using. Even though society went thousands of years without them, it’s not fair to deprive us of an education.”

The shutdown affected college students on another level, hindering the experiences of students actively participating in government-operated internships. Xiomara Loarte, a Mount Saint Mary College senior and the legislative aid/ district intern for Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, confessed the troubles she encountered from the shutdown.

“I was in my internship office before the shutdown was a reality,” Loarte said, “during the chaos and after it came back on. The office went from being a staff of six to a staff of three. Constituent casework continued to fall on our desks, and between limited staff and limited resources, our jobs became exceedingly intense.”

Senior Jeremias Ramos believes that “in the short run, the shutdown didn’t affect college students, besides further diminishing our feelings towards Congress. But in the long run, the cost of the shutdown through lost economic activity will be detrimental to job prospects upon graduation. This just puts another obstacle in the way of the already weak labor market for college grads.”

Regardless of perspective, the government shutdown is over. The nation can only wait and see the long-term effects of this massive halt in the coming months.