The government has shut down, or at the very least, slowed down.

Effective on Oct. 1, the slow down marked the failure of Congress to come up with a new budget plan for the nation.

Each year the federal fiscal calendar ends on Sept. 30, and if the Senate and House of Representatives cannot pass a plan to fund the government before the deadline, it closes.

You may remember this same talk last year, but the last actual shutdown was 17 years ago. We are now in week two of the shutdown, what some term as a "slim-down."

Last week, the political battle between House Republicans and Senate Democrats rose to the forefront of my Economics class. Our professor alerted us that she wished to discuss the major news topic in America for a few minutes.

Thirty minutes later, students were still explaining how the shutdown affects us and what future consequences the heated debate on the Affordable Healthcare Act might inflict.

A quick show of hands revealed that about 15 of my classmates were directly affected by the shutdown, many of them the children of government workers.

The professor informed us only essential government workers such as air traffic control, all emergency care and border control are still working. The estimated 800,000 "non-essential" government workers are currently furloughed, or on an unplanned vacation.

According to the Washington Post, both the Senate and the House voted unanimously, 407-0, to allocate pay back to furloughed workers. The central cause of the government shutdown surrounds the term "ObamaCare," which is known properly as the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Only a few students in class were able to claim full comprehension of the 2,000-page act and one attempted to sum it up for everyone. A few things highlighted include healthcare agencies being unable to turn away applicants for preexisting conditions.

Before the topic was expounded upon, a student seated next to me expressed annoyance that none of this would be on the exam. At this point, he was interested, even tipping me off about a Watergate released tape that showed President Nixon admitting to ripping the American public off with public health care.

Whether you have paid close attention or not, one thing you couldn't have missed is the name Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose 21-hour long filibuster everyone was happy to hear come to a close.

He started off a tirade against Obamacare by saying, "I intend to speak in support of defunding ObamaCare until I can no longer stand."

Looking at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Cruz had a point. The conservative think tank reports that there will be a 24-percentage increase to health care premiums in 13 states for buyers purchasing insurance their own.

In other words, this affects all of us after we get booted from our parents' plans.

The Manhattan Institute site also reports that how much people will pay or whether they pay significantly more or less, depends on whether they qualify for subsidies and current insurance status.

In any case, there is now an "individual mandate," which makes it necessary for everyone to purchase insurance or pay a penalty.

Does it seem peculiar for Republicans to hold out on government funding in order to block or lessen the effects of the ACA? It seems so, especially since ObamaCare continues despite the shutdown.

The move brings to mind a statement from James Madison: "Power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete to effective weapon for obtaining a redress of every grievance."

If, in fact, Republicans are taking cues from the Constitution's authors, is the fight worth it?

You may not be affected by the shutdown. You may think Nixon really did try to do one over on us. Either way you would do well to stay informed about the future of healthcare.

Rebecca Butcher is a junior in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at rbutcher@utk.edu.