The government is shutting down and needless to say I am, and everyone I know is, pretty confused about what’s going on. I keep trying to read about this whole Debt Ceiling, Obamacare, Tea Party conflict but every time I do I sort of space out because the article I am reading requires having read seventeen other articles prior. Luckily, Buzzfeed, The Atlantic, Salon and Wikipedia have some great primers on how we got to this critical point. So, let’s all try to understand what is happening the best we can, obviously it’s kind of confusing and we just want to crawl into the fetal position and hope we still can have our Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
I know politics can be difficult and thus a bit boring but something very important is happening with our government so we should probably pay attention to it, right?
Bullet points, y’all!
Debt Ceiling: “The United States debt ceiling or debt limit is a legislative restriction on the amount of national debt that can be issued by the Treasury. Because expenditures are authorized by separate legislation, the debt ceiling does not actually restrict deficits. In effect, it can only restrain the Treasury from paying for expenditures that have already been incurred.”
Sequester: “In United States federal legislation, the term budget sequestration (or sequester) refers to automatic spending cuts in particular categories of federal outlays. The current sequester lowered spending by a total of approximately $1.1 trillion versus pre-sequester levels over the approximately 8 year period from 2013 to 2021.”
*In 2011 Democrats and Republicans had hoped they could come to some consensus over the Debt Ceiling and budget deficit. They came to a compromise but neither Obama or Boehner (The House Speaker/Republican) was happy.
*A Super Committee was created to come to a solution about this whole budget thing, they failed which resulted in a sequester.
*On December 3, 2012 the United States reached the debt ceiling again. Basically we had to raise the debt ceiling (which determines the amount of debt we can pay back so if we need X amount for the government to run but are only allowed to pay back Y amount then shit will hit the fan, which is basically what happened) to be able to pay our debt or the government would default sending us into a FINANCIAL DISASTER worse than the Great Depression. The government needed to raise the debt ceiling by $700 billion to finance operations for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year. After a temporary suspension, we raised the debt ceiling and thanks to a reduction in spending from the sequester, the American Tax Payer Act and a $60 billion payment from Fannie and Freddie Mac we have enough cash to keep the government afloat until mid-October. But that is soon and we need a resolution!
* House Republicans or more specifically, Tea Party Republicans, refused to hold a budget meeting for fear that the Senate/Dems will pass a bill that would raise taxes and spending in congress. Obama agreed to a short-term solution that would fund the government at sequester levels (although Obama wasn’t all that happy about it).
*When this short-term solution came to an end Obama/Senate weren’t about to negotiate with Republicans again. Not after this whole debacle!
*In order to fund the government the Tea Party (some of the House Republicans) wanted to pass new legislation that would defund Obamacare (at least temporarily) in exchange for funding the government, which would make it easier for them to get rid of Obamacare altogether in the future. Democrats (The Senate) were not having it.
*Most Democrats and most Republicans didn’t want this shutdown to happen and didn’t support the bill that would defund or delay Obamacare however the Tea Party led by Senator Ted Cruz, who has a lot of clout with Speaker Boehner, gave a 21-hour floor speech that catapulted us into this mess because the government could not come to a compromise.
I am still confused, WTF is going on?
Dude, IDK. Basically, our country is trillions of dollars in debt. We can only keep the government running by incurring more debt but if the debt limit puts a cap on how much we can pay back, the government can’t operate. So the Senate and House bickered a ton about whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, eventually they did but as soon we hit this new limit we are going to be in trubs again (which is soon). In order to fund the government we sequestered to reduce federal spending. However, now the sequester is over and we need some kind of solution. Shit is doubly hitting the fan. Tea Party Republicans felt the solution was to defund Obamacare, Democrats were NOT having it. No resolution means the government is shutting down because we can no longer fund it.
So guys, this is my interpretation of events after reading a ton of rather esoteric, convoluted articles. If any of this seems incorrect or if you have more information or opinions on this matter feel free to comment. Or just enjoy these GIFs of how I feel right now.