The partial shutdown of the federal government is an unfortunate situation that has the potential of impacting many people. Not only have federal employees been furloughed, but non-profit organizations like ours, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), will soon feel the effects of the government shutdown. We depend heavily upon federal funding to pay for our many programs and services that keep thousands of homeless individuals and families off the street and put them on the path to becoming self-sustaining.
If the government shutdown continues much longer, DRMM and other similar human and social services agencies around the country will be hurting, and so will the people who depend upon us for food, shelter, clothing, job training, educational classes, and more.
While DRMM has many generous private donors, a prolonged government shutdown will force us to depend more upon our friends and supporters to increase the amount and/or frequency of their donations in order for us to continue to function at our current capacity. That’s a lot to ask. Especially with today’s uncertain economy and high unemployment rates in many cities, including Detroit. The holiday shopping season is just around the corner, and it is likely consumer confidence will wane if the government shutdown is still going on, thereby hurting the overall economy even more.
What’s at issue here? Republicans are holding firm that they will only agree to fund and re-open the government if President Obama and Democrats agree to delay the implementation of the President’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act. The launch of the healthcare law occurred on October 1st, so Republicans are trying to stop something that has already begun.
It’s ironic that the same issues Democrats, Republicans and the White House are fighting about — spending and healthcare in these austere times — are now in jeopardy of getting worse due to the hundreds of thousands of government employees going every day without a paycheck and the ripple effect on the nation’s human services agencies that depend on government funding to feed and provide medical care for those in need. The longer the shutdown continues, the more victims it will create.
My message to the White House and Congress: Negotiate. Break the deadlock. There are no real winners in this battle — but a lot of people stand to lose.