A whole lot of people that weren’t all that concerned about the government shutdown became really, really concerned about it in seconds when the EBT Food Stamp system went down in hundreds of retail locations along the East Coast Saturday. Some people were getting close to a full on panic mode as their cards were declined and their transactions were unable to proceed. For the millions of Americans that receive this form of aid from the government, it’s just as poignant as if am employer failed to deliver their paychecks on time.
The government shutdown had absolutely nothing to do with the EBT failure. Company Xerox, mostly known for being synonymous with making copies, also is involved in credit card transactions, and they were the reason the crisis happened. Xerox has now reported that the system is back to 100% and hopefully we won’t be seeing a repeat of the incident in the future.
This fact hasn’t stopped the conspiracy theories. Some believe the government purposely unleashed this to increase panic and up the pressure on one side or the other (depending on who you ask) to cave in to get the government rolling again. The concept is that if you panic millions of EBTers, it will cause enough of a disturbance that even the most pesky Republican will relent. Also, it ups the political rhetoric. Neither side wants it to look like they are causing people to not be able to eat.
The reality is that the Xerox system went down temporarily at a time when people had been reassured that their benefits were intact for now, but still, the political climate is muddled enough that it doesn’t take that much for people to be ready to riot in the streets.
Having said that, EBT recipients need to be looking to the date of October 31 warily. That is the date that the temporary stimulus installed will expire. The stimulus package quickly was absorbed and became standard for many American families when it was never meant to be permanent to begin with. Now, just like a lot of the tax drops, Americans don’t understand that the expiration of this temporary stimulus on the 31st is just returning things back to normal, not taking something away from someone that was supposed to get it perpetually. Still, unless Congress intervenes, and there is little reason to think that they will do so, on October 31st, some of those that were on the higher cusp of eligibility may lose their benefits once and for all.
Even if that does happen at the end of the month, it should be noted that this would have happened regardless of the government shutdown and has been a known fact for years. Just saying.