Alright, here’s the shortest version I can make of this and have it make sense.
A while back, a law was passed called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often shortened in the media to ‘Obamacare’. President Obama promised in his first campaign to make healthcare more accessible and less costly, and this is how he did it. He and the Democratic party originally wanted a single-payer plan, commonly called free or universal healthcare, as exists in Canada, Australia and many other countries. The ACA is not that — briefly, it makes it required for everyone to have health insurance, and then the government helps pay if you can’t afford it. It also bans insurance companies from, among other things, charging women more than men for the same coverage, and refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions. (Fun fact: did you know “fat” is a pre-existing condition to these people? I was rejected by three different health insurance companies based on my height and weight!)
The ACA passed into law exactly how Schoolhouse Rock taught us bills become law. The House passed it, the Senate passed it, the President signed it. Some people had concerns about whether it was constitutional, so they brought it before the Supreme Court to review it. Upon review, the court ruled that it was constitutional and was to go into law.
It is settled law as much as laws against murder are. There was literally NOTHING sketchy or backhanded about how it passed.
Now, however, the Republicans are so mad that it passed that they are refusing to pass this year’s federal budget unless the budget removes funding for the ACA (among a lot of other equally unreasonable demands, but this is the sticker). And since Congress failed to pass a budget before the deadline (today), as of midnight, the federal government shut down.
This means, among other things, 800,000 federal employees are off work, mostly without pay. Many of these employees are seasonal or part-time, which means they don’t get vacation time or healthcare either. Our armed forces will remain on duty, but stop receiving paychecks until the shutdown ends. Heinously enough, since many military families earn so little that they’re also on WIC, SNAP or other social welfare programs, guess what? Those programs are in jeopardy as well. Some more effects of the shutdown can be found in this post.
So that’s what happened. A piece of legislation that the Republicans opposed passed even though they opposed it, through the exact channels of our government that laws were designed to be passed through. And instead of accepting it as the law of the land, they’re literally holding our country, economy and many of our most susceptible citizens hostage to try and make the administration undo it.
This is why the shutdown is not “both parties’ fault”. The Republicans’ behavior is the equivalent of unplugging the Xbox when your friend is beating you at a game rather than accepting that you lost.