The government is working again. But my best guess is that it won’t be for long.
For more than two weeks, the reality of an inactive government, as well as the fear of default, has kept local and global players on their toes. Luckily, with the last-minute maneuver by the Senate to raise the debt ceiling, we will be fine until next year.
Students have been asking one another how the federal government shutdown has affected them. During the first week of the shutdown, I was amazed to find that a handful of students attending AU currently work for the government, and cannot figure out how they will pay their bills on time, not to mention their student loans.
After 2013, AU students – particularly incoming freshmen and graduating seniors – will confront an even tighter market. Month after month, the same representatives, representing the same hardcore anti-government constituents, will vote the same way. While these are assumptions, current economic forecasts provide reason for skepticism.
Washingtonians, and residents outside the beltway, say “we need austerity” or “Congress should just come to an agreement.” This is disconcerting for many young professionals expecting to earn a decent living.
Interns, staff and legislative assistants serving House and Senate members were hit the hardest, given the hierarchy within the government bureaucracy. In California, for example, NASA interns were booted from their dorms. So, the effect is not limited to D.C. Students entering international relations and politics have been hard-hit by this political chess.
Internationally, the ramifications could be severe, as countries are growing wary in considering the U.S. as a prime location to invest.
AU students have an obligation to make our government work better. The smoother the system works, the better off the U.S. can be vis-à-vis economic competition wielded by rising powers. As a very politically active university, we should work to prevent future defaults, shutdowns and other atrocities concerning governments’ basic functioning.
We have an opportunity to change long-held perceptions regarding our reputation, both as a military and economic powerhouse. Convincing lawmakers that their job is not restricted just to their constituents, but includes the entire country, is attainable. Future AU alumni have a golden opportunity to, instead of following the revolving door, become Capitol Hill’s guiding voice.
Marshall Bornemann is a junior in the School of International Service.