Shutdown coming?

posted at 12:15 pm on February 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Conservatives cheered when freshmen in the House Republican caucus demanded and got steeper cuts in the remainder of the FY2011 budget, but The Hill reports that Democrats in the Senate may gird themselves for a game of chicken.  Chuck Schumer warned that the proposal would be dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled upper chamber.  A standoff could result in another government shutdown as it did in 1995-6, which both parties say they want to avoid but neither will eschew entirely:

Lawmakers from both parties stress they want to avoid a rerun of the stalemate that led to a shutdown in late 1995 and early 1996. But the rhetoric on spending has escalated, and Democratic and GOP officials are already prepping for the blame game.

Positions have hardened after a revolt last week by House conservatives, who forced GOP leaders to nearly double their proposed spending cuts for 2011.

If the cuts pass the House, Senate Democrats say they are dead on arrival in the upper chamber. …

During a teleconference last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “Time is wasting while House Republicans argue among themselves about how extreme a proposal to send to the Senate. We are willing to meet the Republicans in the middle on spending, but they keep lurching to the right.

“And this infighting is causing delays that will take these negotiations right up to the deadline and risk a government shutdown. And that seems to be exactly what many Republicans want.”

Demmocrats have settled on the strategy of painting these Republicans as the direct successors of the 1995 caucus that burned themselves in a standoff with Bill Clinton.  Republicans have been careful to stay away from endorsing the idea of a shutdown, not wanting to seem ambitious for that result as some Republicans appeared to be in 1995.  Newt Gingrich and his team took the brunt of public disapproval in that instance, and helped Clinton’s standing with voters.  At the time, Clinton seemed to have become irrelevant in the new GOP majorities in both the House and the Senate, and his tough fight against Gingrich restored his position in Washington.

However, 1995 was very different from what we face 16 years later.  In 1995, while voters had concerns about Congressional spending, the budget was in much healthier shape than it is today.  So was the economy, which helped boost revenues and made the budget balance sheet look that much better.  The end result of the split power between Capitol Hill and the White House was a net reduction in discretionary spending and the curtailing of a major entitlement program (welfare), so in the end, Republicans won that battle, even if they took a hit to their popularity in doing so.

Today, voters understand that we have a massive deficit and debt crisis.  The economy has stagnated for two years following the collapse of the housing bubble, and unemployment is much higher — 9.0% against 5.4% in November 1995, and the latter figure came with a much higher civilian population participation rate (66.5%, compared t0 64.2% last month).  The political pressure to cut spending is much, much greater now — and a cut of less than three percent in a budget with a 42% deficit is not going to sound extreme to most voters.

If Democrats choose to play chicken with a government shutdown again, they may belatedly discover the difference between 1995 and 2011.  The trick to playing chicken, as the film The Hunt for Red October instructed, is in knowing when to flinch.

Update: Paul Ryan says there won’t be a shutdown:

Republicans will pass short-term measures to keep funding the government rather than allow a shutdown, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday.

Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said that if the GOP-held House can’t reach an agreement with President Obama and Democrats in the Senate on a continuing resolution (CR) funding the government the rest of this fiscal year, it would pursue temporary funding measures, and not allow a government shutdown.

“If we don’t get agreement in the meantime, yes, we do think there’s going to be some sort of situation where there’s a short-term CR,” Ryan said on “Good Morning America.”

“I think we’re going to have to negotiate exactly how those short-term CRs occur,” he added.

This message was apparently approved by John Boehner.


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shut it all down, destroy it and start from scratch…..

SDarchitect on February 15, 2011 at 12:18 PM

So Ryan and the GOP blinked?

fossten on February 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM

We are willing to meet the Republicans in the middle on spending, but they keep lurching to the right.

Too bad, Schumer. We’ve been doing it your way for decades, and look where it has gotten us. It’s time for the conservatives to clean up the mess that you and the rest of the left and the “center” created.

UltimateBob on February 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Its time to shut this mother down. Obama’s press conference today has made it clear he is not serious on this issue.

MyImamToldMeToDoIt on February 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Shut the government down. I mean, WTH do they do that’s good anyway, besides DoD, and delivering the mail?

Ward Cleaver on February 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

The Holidays are behind us, so the left won’t have that cudgel to hit us with. Shut it down.

CurtZHP on February 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

So Ryan and the GOP blinked?

fossten on February 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Nobody has any balls these days. We’re going to have to go where Greece is, before anything serious gets done.

Ward Cleaver on February 15, 2011 at 12:22 PM

SHUT IT DOWN!

GarandFan on February 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Update: Paul Ryan says there won’t be a shutdown

Way to show your hand, Ryan. Who taught you how to play poker? You’re dancing to the tune that Chuck Schumer has called (to mix metaphors). :-)

UltimateBob on February 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Maybe it’s old age, makes you forgetful—but I don’t recall the 95 shut down as catastrophic. I’d forgotten it until the possibility was raised here and elswhere.

jeanie on February 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Let’s go for it! The audacity of the nitwit’s challenge is too tempting.

Even ABC is questioning the State-Run Media Giant engineered by the WH to massage its message.

onlineanalyst on February 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM

I agree, shut it down. Some if it needs to go away anyway. Like the NEA and NPR.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on February 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM

What the heck is the dem endgame here? Complete destruction of our economy through massive debt? I Just…don’t…get…it.

WitchDoctor on February 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM

It appears so Fossten…but why appease the dems….STUPID

cmsinaz on February 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Ed . . . You’re assuming that most voters are willing to keep themselves in the loop on the deficit, monthly unemployment rates and on what’s being cut from where.

Ryan Anthony on February 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM

If we don’t get agreement in the meantime, yes, we do think there’s going to be some sort of situation where there’s a short-term CR

Fund it at only 90% of what’s been proposed. Democrats refuse that, then they are the ones shutting down the government. Tell them the government has two options, spending $X or $0.

rbj on February 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM

I’l like to know what harm came from the shutdown in 95-96? Even the workers that were “laid off” got paid.

msflea on February 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM

I Just…don’t…get…it.

WitchDoctor on February 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM

It is pretty simple, a massive crisis that demands a strong government hand. An iron hand. Yes, I said it.

Limerick on February 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

The Holidays are behind us, so the left won’t have that cudgel to hit us with. Shut it down.

CurtZHP on February 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Easter is just around the corner though. If the gummint shuts down, the left will try to make conservatives look like antichrists who want to steal the chocolate eggs from the children.

UltimateBob on February 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

So Ryan and the GOP blinked?

fossten on February 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Not at all! Ryan disarmed the “trap” so that only Dems can force a gov’t shutdown. I’d like to see the Gov’t shut down, but it blew up in Newt’s face and gave Clinton new political life. Now, it’s true the MSM isn’t as powerful now as then, but why risk it and give Obama a big boost for ’12?

cartooner on February 15, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Did anyone watch that press conference Obama just held? I think he just faced the most hostile press corpse of his entire career.

Granted, they were still on their knees but for the first time they seemed to resent the indignity of being lied to constantly.

Mord on February 15, 2011 at 12:28 PM

UltimateBob on February 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

There is no getting around that. We win by not taking the bait.

Limerick on February 15, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Shut it down, and impeach Obutthead. It’s clear now, after his lil presser…he’s hell bent on destroying this country. I don’t give a fig what Medved says. Obutthead will destroy this nation!!!

capejasmine on February 15, 2011 at 12:29 PM

I like the negotiating approach of

“Let’s cut $100 billion.”

“Too much.”

“Ok, then let’s cut $200 billion.”

“Hey, this isn’t how these negotiations are supposed to go.”

“Ok, let’s cut $300 billion. We don’t mind continuing these negotiations as we are really starting to make progress now. Any more complaints?”

GnuBreed on February 15, 2011 at 12:29 PM

It is pretty simple, a massive crisis that demands a strong government hand. An iron hand. Yes, I said it.

Limerick on February 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

How depressing.

WitchDoctor on February 15, 2011 at 12:29 PM

They say “shutdown” like it’s a bad thing.

With the government as bloated as it is right now, shutting off everything but defense actually *helps* the country IMHO.

teke184 on February 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Now, it’s true the MSM isn’t as powerful now as then,

cartooner on February 15, 2011 at 12:27 PM

can I have some of what you are smoking?

upinak on February 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

In other words screw the taxpaying citizen. We need to continue to fund the voters that don’t hold jobs so they vote for us. If the pubbies don’t wake up a third party is inevitable. And, the cost in time to establish a viable third party may destroy us.

chicken thief on February 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

O/T

When do we get a thread on this latest spectacle of a press conference that despicable turd Obama just gave? He epitomized the theory that Hitler postulated that if you tell a big enough lie for a long enough period of time, that the masses will believe it because they cannot believe anyone is that evil to tell that big of a lie!

csdeven on February 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

And this budget wasn’t done last year because…..?

MayBee on February 15, 2011 at 12:31 PM

And this budget wasn’t done last year because…..?

MayBee on February 15, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Because only so much work can be squeezed between the 18th and 19th hole.

Limerick on February 15, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Yeah. Issue CRs funded at 2006 level for the first one, 2002 for the next one, 1998 for the next one. We’ll see a whole different kind of chicken then.

michaelo on February 15, 2011 at 12:33 PM

The public is serious about this subject – the politicians have yet to realize that we are desperate to hear the truth.

jake-the-goose on February 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM

csdeven on February 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Seconded! I tuned in about halfway through but just in time to see a guy ask Obama how he could possibly say that adding 7 trillion in debt over the next 10 years is “living in our means”. Obama danced around it like he was doing the tango.

He couldn’t admit he was going to let Republicans do all of the work and demagogue them until 2012 after all.

Mord on February 15, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Shut it down, shut it down now! – Die Hard

Oil Can on February 15, 2011 at 12:36 PM

And this budget wasn’t done last year because…..?

MayBee on February 15, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Because of George W. Bush. And hate filled right wing talk radio. Silly.

rbj on February 15, 2011 at 12:37 PM

He couldn’t admit he was going to let Republicans do all of the work and demagogue them until 2012 after all.

Mord on February 15, 2011 at 12:36 PM

tru dat, but the blm pretty much said it after his presser…they know his game and are going along for the ride…

cmsinaz on February 15, 2011 at 12:38 PM

When do we get a thread on this latest spectacle of a press conference that despicable turd Obama just gave? He epitomized the theory that Hitler postulated that if you tell a big enough lie for a long enough period of time, that the masses will believe it because they cannot believe anyone is that evil to tell that big of a lie!

csdeven on February 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Yes please. What a joke.

Oh yeah and……….

Shut ‘er down.

Knucklehead on February 15, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Close.
It.
Down.

Ju-jitsu, Cloward & Piven style.

Bruno Strozek on February 15, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Continuing resolutions do not have to fund everything. If the GOP is smart, maybe they just continue some departments – the ones that offer the most constituent services etc. National Parks and Soc Sec. Etc. etc. Much easier to demagogue a complete shutdown than a targeted one.

WashingtonsWake on February 15, 2011 at 12:45 PM

rbj on February 15, 2011 at 12:37 PM

he did mention his inheritance once again in this presser…

cmsinaz on February 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM

During a teleconference last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “Time is wasting while House Republicans argue among themselves about how extreme a proposal to send to the Senate.

Republicans are wasting time??? Where have the Dems been on this for the last year??? Their total failure in leadership is why this is happening now.

taznar on February 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM

taznar on February 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM

but you wouldn’t know it with how the msm plays it up for them…

cmsinaz on February 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM

While I am OK with a shutdown, I am also concerned about the political trap regarding which we should not be blind. Perhaps Obama can be exposed by a month-by-month CR, perhaps 2 months, each time getting an agreement from the congressional democrats to eliminate some significant federal spending.

GaltBlvnAtty on February 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM

If they would just be serious about the issue they would follow the simple two step PAPPY PLAN.

1. Seal the border.

2. Cut 10% across the board in spending.

Barring a serious effort to cut the budget we better start stocking up now.


CLOWARD AND PIVEN has arrived in D.C. and it resides in the Oval office (and Congress).

PappyD61 on February 15, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Shut it down, shut it down now! – Die Hard

Oil Can on February 15, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Lose the grid, or you lose your job.

fossten on February 15, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Make no mistake THE LEFT WANTS A SHUTDOWN.

They want the excuse to have MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of UNION MEMBERS in D.C. and shutting it down like they did in Egypt.

I said this weeks ago that Egypt was just a DRESS REHEARSAL (CLOWARD AND PIVEN off Broadway so to speak).

Seriously need to start buying supplies.

PappyD61 on February 15, 2011 at 12:55 PM

And the House continues to fail to impress.

About the only thing I can see changing my mind about the totally useless Republican party at this point is if Boehner brings to the House floor a bill to start bankruptcy proceedings for this country.

I am going right now to change my party affiliation.

Scott H on February 15, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Ryan says there will be “short term CR’s,” a series of same rather than a shutdown. That sounds pretty weak to me. Beginning to have doubts about the Repub. leadership already. Nothing like telegraphing your punches, even in Congress?

tomshup on February 15, 2011 at 12:59 PM

The “government shutdown” was a joke. The idea that the government shutdown somehow gave Clinton a boost is pretty silly too.

More than anything else, the government shutdown showed me what we can and can’t live without. Was there rioting in the streets, massive crime, did our fighting men and women in the field put down their weapons and come home? No.

The “government shutdown” was drama, silly drama.

What kept Clinton around was Dole.

Same mechanisms helped Obama vs. McCain.

It’s also why we probably shouldn’t run Newt.

So let’s go ahead, shut it down, let’s see what we can and can’t live without then have an election. I’m all for it.

Jason Coleman on February 15, 2011 at 12:59 PM

It is pretty simple, a massive crisis that demands a strong government hand. An iron hand. Yes, I said it.

Limerick on February 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

I don’t think they think that far ahead. They just protect their little special interest niches and cash cows, assuming that revenues can be raised to cover the entire budget if the Republicans just get out of the way.
Their end game is “we’ll just raise taxes (on the rich”, oblivious to the fact that raising taxes won’t generate the tax revenue they expect.

Count to 10 on February 15, 2011 at 12:59 PM

PappyD61 on February 15, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Let them riot. We’re headed there anyway. If people can’t live without their Medicare and Social Security, then this country is dead.

End of story.

Scott H on February 15, 2011 at 12:59 PM

So let me get this straight. If government shuts down because the Dems won’t pass what the GOP house sends it, it’s the GOP’s fault. Yet, if a GOP president won’t sign a Dem House budget, it’s the GOP’s fault.

Got it.

John Deaux on February 15, 2011 at 1:02 PM

We need a Jack Ryan – not a Paul Ryan – to get it done right. (In keeping with Ed’s Red October line.)

liberty0 on February 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Deaux: As long as the GOP decides not to fight for control of the conversation, you are indeed correct.

Scott H on February 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM

There won’t be a shutdown.

The debt limit will be raised.

Great negotiating positions, GOP.

Wethal on February 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM

Deaux: As long as the GOP decides not to fight for control of the conversation, you are indeed correct.

Scott H on February 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM

They’re always having to take the high road because the media are the Dems attack dogs.

That’s where real change needs to happen.

John Deaux on February 15, 2011 at 1:08 PM

And who is served by the passage of continuing resolutions? It’s time for the GOP to grow a spine, accept the barbs which come with doing the painful but correct thing, and shut it down. No lift of the ceiling, no CRs, no compromise.

Freelancer on February 15, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Look at what Christie is doing. Talk to the people like adults.

That said, make no mistake, the people you take money from WILL NOT BE HAPPY. No matter what you say. It’s just a fact of life.

Dash on February 15, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Shut the government down. I mean, WTH do they do that’s good anyway, besides DoD, and delivering the mail?
Ward Cleaver on February 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

The US Postal Service can be replaced — EASILY.

As for Defense, our state Guard units can easily protect us from any threats posed by Canada or Mexico. The worst-case scenario is that libertarians will get their wish and America will simply concede all its overseas interests. Not ideal by any stretch, but not the end of the world (well, not our little part of it anyway.)

The real threat is not that we will (horror!) lose federal “services.” The only thing that could really destroy the republic is if the federal government decides to take all the states down with it, and effectively declares war on any local government that tries to fend for itself.

Unfortunately, there is not a doubt in my mind that these people intend to do precisely that.

logis on February 15, 2011 at 1:18 PM

Hey, maybe we will get lucky and the military will dissolve the congress and remove the president from power…

equanimous on February 15, 2011 at 1:19 PM

The fact that we are having this debate in 2011 signifies that we were not serious about controlling deficits in 1995. For goodness sakes, we are forced to buy our own debt, at what point does President Obama and Senator Schumer see this situation as unsustainable. Deep cuts need to be made to entitlements. If Republicans do not have the courage to do this, many are now sufficiently frustrated with the double speak to look to a third party.

Angry Dumbo on February 15, 2011 at 1:21 PM

The trick to playing chicken

Is to never lift your foot off the pedal.

Its all a matter of intimidation, only the balls it takes to slam down throttle and hold it there, aiming, at your opponent achieves the required result.

Playing chicken, isn’t playing, and it isn’t chicken, its the courage to chase, your opponent out of the fight ring.

Only when your willing to put it all on the line is there a reward worth having.

Speakup on February 15, 2011 at 1:29 PM

This ain’t 1995…

Somebody tell the senior Senator from NY to wait until he (METAPHORICALLY!!) puts the tire around his neck before he reaches for the gasoline and an ignition source…

Khun Joe on February 15, 2011 at 1:33 PM

The Rs only have discretion over 1.3T dollars out of the 3.7T budget, if I understand correctly

There are a chunk of mandatory programs (like food stamps) that are funded automatically because of previous laws. From an appropriations point of view 100B out of 1300B is a pretty big cut. If you look at the historical tables the 1300B is up some…but it does not account for the tremendous increase in the total budget

I don’t know if any Rs know enough about the budget and historical budgets to give a clear explanation of the massive increases.

r keller on February 15, 2011 at 1:56 PM

We need a Jack Ryan – not a Paul Ryan – to get it done right. (In keeping with Ed’s Red October line.)

liberty0 on February 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM

…and Bammie is the ‘ignorant ass’ in the Soviet attack submarine.

slickwillie2001 on February 15, 2011 at 2:01 PM

So Ryan and the GOP blinked?

fossten on February 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Nobody has any balls these days.
Ward Cleaver on February 15, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Nobody has balls? That’s rich coming from the camp that would rather politically assassinate the fiscal conservatives in order to usurp and destroy the only balls around rather than cooperate to achieve fiscal national strength. No matter how magnificent the war machine, without money for fuel, parts and replacements, the Military is stuck on broke without a strong US economy. Irony, meet Ward Cleaver.

maverick muse on February 15, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Prioritize spending, and instead of passing one giant budget bill that funds everything, pass specific funding bills in priority order.

Then when the Dems whine and moan about the funding levels for the DoEd, DoE, EPA, etc their choice is to fund the department at Republican levels or not fund it at all. Without being able to hold anything else hostage, at least not without being blatantly obvious about it.

LarryD on February 15, 2011 at 2:12 PM

The trick to winning at chicken is to unbolt your steering wheel and throwing it out the window, and making sure your opponent sees you doing it.

Haiku Guy on February 15, 2011 at 2:21 PM

So will somebody please list what exactly will happen in the govt actually ‘shuts down’?
I have a govt job: public school teacher.
But the state also pays $$ to the districts.
So while we do receive federal funds, I am mystified as to how this will just be so catastrophic for the whole nation.

Badger40 on February 15, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Good. Shut it down.

Of course, they won’t really do that. People might figure out how little they really need the federal government for.

bitsy on February 15, 2011 at 2:50 PM

My son just came home from Kindergarten – told me I can have 9 cups of sugar a day – mom 7 cups – and if he has to much sugar he will die — I say shut the non essential Gov down — Dept of Ed would be a good start …

wheels on February 15, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Does anyone have numbers on how much money a day our country will save if the federal government is shut down?

slickwillie2001 on February 15, 2011 at 3:19 PM

As anyone schooled in game theory can tell you, the trick to a chicken game is credible committment. Like handcuffing yourself to the car and throwing the handcuff key and steering wheel out of the window. For the committment to be credible may require you to appear to be irrational, and on this front there may be no more convincing player in the world than the Democrats.

jl on February 15, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Dept of Ed Ministry of Propaganda would be a good start …

wheels on February 15, 2011 at 3:08 PM

hillbillyjim on February 15, 2011 at 3:51 PM

“If we don’t get agreement in the meantime, yes, we do think there’s going to be some sort of situation where there’s a short-term CR,” Ryan said on “Good Morning America.”

In order to win this game of chicken, what about:

(1) very short-term CR’s (such as one month) to give Reps and Senators time to negotiate, with the threat of a shutdown if the Senate can’t reach agreement;

(2) letting the government shut down if 3 or 4 CR’s go by without agreement, and blame it on the Democrats;

(3) partial shutdowns of some agencies, such as EPA, Energy, or HHS, while funding essential services, in order to target budget cuts where they’re needed most

Steve Z on February 15, 2011 at 4:46 PM

I like the negotiating approach of

“Let’s cut $100 billion.”

“Too much.”

“Ok, then let’s cut $200 billion.”

“Hey, this isn’t how these negotiations are supposed to go.”

“Ok, let’s cut $300 billion. We don’t mind continuing these negotiations as we are really starting to make progress now. Any more complaints?”

GnuBreed on February 15, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Oh yeah. We need a little more lurching to the right afeter decades and decades of full steam ahead to the left.

SHUT IT DOWN.

j_galt on February 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM

SHUT IT DOWN!!

xplodeit on February 15, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Ward Cleaver on February 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

DOD ok…USPS…not so much and certainly not needed!!!!

RedLizard64 on February 15, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Freelancer on February 15, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Here Here!!! See you Thursday for discuss.

RedLizard64 on February 15, 2011 at 8:11 PM

j_galt on February 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Exactly…we all no that when “real” push comes to “real” shove this is the only way to negotiate because besides being a mental disorder, liberalism breeds sissies!!! (And no matter how much a bully “puts on the dog” push back turns them into sissies!!!

RedLizard64 on February 15, 2011 at 8:14 PM