Two and a half weeks ago, I wrote a blog as we entered the second week of the shutdown. I asked how it was going for you, and could see no end in sight.
Well, here we are, a week after the country’s emergence from the abyss of shutdown, and now we’ve had time to take stock, let’s consider the effect it’s had. Not on the economy – there’s been plenty of chat about that – but on you. On Americans and American businesses.
I want to speak first of the people who have been totally unaffected. Maybe you were one of them. Many people have spoken of places where the whole thing went unnoticed, and where residents thought the shutdown was a ‘Washington thing’. One blogger described central government as being, in the eyes of those inside the Beltway, “the sun around which the nation’s people orbit, when in truth it is of minor significance at best, and an occasional impediment at worst”.
This does, however, seem to be a minority view. On the other side of the coin, there are the small businesses that rely on visitors to the national parks, which were closed throughout (though some states found funds to reopen the national parks near them in a bid to help local economies). Where parks shut down, the effects were profoundly felt.
Thousands went without federal paychecks, but it wasn’t just government workers who were affected. With less being spent on gas, travel and daily tasks like getting the dry-cleaning done, some small businesses and retail businesses will have suffered. Luxuries like restaurant dining and trips away were also deferred.
And whoever said the government shutdown hasn’t affected everyday people? The events of the past few weeks saw the temporary suspension of federal money for employed parents who need financial help enrolling their children in day care. This has put pressure on parents to pay more, or the day care centers themselves, where the federal reimbursements would usually go straight to them. Do they ask parents to cough up more, or take a hit for the duration of the shutdown?
With the DC government prevented from spending local funds in a shutdown, a lack of trash collection has seen mounds of garbage piling up around the federal buildings and museums. There was even a group on Facebook urging people to take their trash to the house of speaker John Boehner.
Other ‘everyday people’ affected by the shutdown include Kelly Moores, who was in the middle of refinancing, and worried whether she’d lose her 30-day locked rate with the furlough of FHA loan-processing staff. Also, the shutdown meant Rachel Elliman’s fiancé, who is a doctor receiving disability and GI benefits, was unable to pay bills and school rent.
But possibly the most heartrending situation regarded those couples up and down the country for whom the shutdown affected the biggest day of their lives. After months of planning, having organised the flowers, the dress and the guest list, many husbands- and wives-to-be were unable to hold their weddings at the national monuments that were the planned backdrop for the day. For MaiLien Le -who was due to marry Mike Cassesso – the rain was more of a worry; that was until the shutdown came along, forcing them to find a last minute replacement. Not exactly the sort of stress you need on the eve of your wedding day.
Maybe you were badly affected by the shutdown, or maybe it feels like nothing ever happened. Whatever you feel now, you may just be feeling it again in January.