As many projected, the government shutdown went into effect after the 2012-2013 fiscal year ended on Sept. 30. It's unclear how long it will last and how much the American people will suffer. Yet, leading up to the shutdown, some members of the Congress found it to be the perfect time to discuss issues not wholly related to passing a new budget bill such as women's access to birth control. The American people say it's about time that these representatives face what anyone faces when they don't do their jobs: losing their paychecks.
The Courage Campaign, "an online organizing network that empowers more than 750,000 grassroots and netroots activists," began a "no pay for Congress during the shutdown" petition. The petition has gained over 260,000 signatures to date. While the message is clear and the reason behind the petition is grounded and valid, the petition itself — or achieving what it seeks to do — will do little to relieve government shutdown's impact on American people.
Unlike some people who will still get their $174,000 salary no matter what, the shutdown is directly connected to livelihoods of others. And this isn't just limited to the 800,000-some furloughed federal employees. It also includes small business owners whose businesses are affected by the closures of national parks and museums and could ultimately go out of business because of the shutdown.
But even without the pay, the congressmen will not share the pain felt by their fellow Americans. Not getting a portion of their $174,000 salary would still place them above the living wage in the D.C. area. An eye-for-an-eye tactic, in its strictest sense, simply won't do.
The government shutdown isn't a game. Taking Americans' livelihoods "hostage" is outrageous. No representatives should feel they are paying the price by not getting their paychecks, nor should such excuses justify a prolonged period of government shutdown. What the American people really need isn't a pay cut for their representatives. They need a government that is up and running, doing what everyone expects it to do. And that's what everyone in this country should be fighting for.