Lessons from the great government shutdown of 1995-1996
"There's a very good possibility that government will shut down. I know the Democrats have their talking points lined up. They'll blame us for everything. What will we do?"
--Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), Feb. 22, 2011
Glenn Kessler reports on the Fact Checker blog that with a March 4 deadline looming on extending a stopgap spending bill, both Republicans and Democrats are preparing for the possibility of a federal government shutdown. Interestingly, a new poll of political insiders reveals that Republicans overwhelmingly believe that a government shutdown is not in their interest. Democrats, by contrast, believe a government shutdown would benefit their party.
The reason? The great government shutdown of 1995-1996, in which a weakened President Bill Clinton faced off against determined Republicans, led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) -- and won. Take a look at the classic New York Daily News cover from that period (above) as evidence of how the Republicans lost control of their message. The Republican Revolution died that day.
John Boehner, the current speaker, was the No. 4 Republican in the House leadership during Gingrich's heyday. By many accounts, the experience of living through that shutdown has deeply affected him. Assuming Boehner can maintain control of his caucus, that alone makes it less likely that a shutdown will happen this year.
Read the entire post on the Fact Checker blog.
Washington Post Editors
| February 25, 2011; 11:09 AM ET
Categories: Government Shutdown
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