The current political atmosphere deserves a prime-time spot on TLC. The government’s drama is reaching a high point this week. Capitol Hill’s heated debate over the border wall reached a peak at the end of 2018 when President Trump dug his heels in and demanded his border wall, to which Democrats expressed their disapproval. Twenty-one days later and the U.S. is entering into the longest government shutdown in its history.
Approximately 800,000 government employees are without pay during this shutdown, according to The New York Times. Leaving workers and their families without paychecks
I consider the government shutdown an absolute outrage and so should you.
Let us consider a few government mechanisms we rely on to help you grasp the expansive damage of a government shutdown. We’ll begin with the Food and Drug Administration, a facet of government we trust to regulate the sanitation and production of all the food we consume. Cuts to funding from the shutdown forced the FDA to temporarily suspend 40 percent of routine food inspections, according to NPR. Remember the romaine lettuce and E. coli scare that just ended? CNN reports that 62 people fell ill from that outbreak. The FDA was fully funded and staffed, with all of its routine inspections underway when that foodborne illness swept the nation. Who knows what could slip through the cracks with nearly half of FDA food inspections suspended?
We won’t be able to consume our semi-inspected food without money, which we rely on to come from the IRS, who help us to obtain our grants, student loans and other forms of aid. The shutdown’s interference with IRS funding creates roadblocks for processing some students’ financial aid.
“The shutdown has impacted some students’ ability to access [tax return transcripts],” said Christina Lamb, senior associate director at the Office for Student Financial Affairs at the University of Florida.
These transcripts are necessary for the verification of student or parent income, a determinant factor of students’ financial aid eligibility. University administrators across the nation report that “disruptions at the Internal Revenue Service are hindering college students from receiving federal student loans and grants,” according to The Washington Post. Lamb noted that this issue impacts “a small number of students” at UF. She further explained that the Department of Education released guidelines to schools this week outlining acceptable alternative documentation for the tax return transcripts the IRS provides. These alternative procedures allow universities to resolve delays in processing students’ financial aid. With the Office for Student Financial Affairs reporting more than 70 percent of UF students reliant on some form of financial aid, including myself, I’m alarmed to learn the shutdown complicated financial aid for some students.
Instead of arguing about the wall, we need to discuss building a bridge between Democrats and Republicans. I know both parties could use more tact in handling their differences, but President Trump is clearly the person we need to back down. From his infuriating and deceptive lies about the “border crisis” to his immature exit from important negotiations, the president is dragging this shutdown on for selfish and costly reasons. President Trump needs to admit that his wall is a weak and critically flawed plan. Think of what the president could achieve if he threw his toddler-like rage into an idea that was actually going somewhere.
Despite his immaturity, President Trump isn’t in a boyband, so taking a page from NSYNC’s book and “Bye Bye Bye”-ing from a crucial meeting doesn’t win him any popularity. If he’s looking for direction from pop icons, President Trump should take Ari’s advice and say “Thank U, Next” to his border wall.
Chasity Maynard is a UF journalism freshman. Her column appears on Fridays.