Dean says he’s rooting for a government shutdown

posted at 2:55 pm on March 29, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Howard Dean may love big government, but he’d apparently love it to go away for a few days.  In a panel discussion this morning sponsored by National Journal, Dean says that Democrats should be “quietly rooting” for a budget impasse to bring the federal government to a halt, because he’s certain who will get the blame:

Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, sees an upside to a looming government shutdown – at least politically.

“If I was head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for it,” said Dean, speaking on a National Journal Insider’s Conference panel Tuesday morning. “I know who’s going to get blamed – we’ve been down this road before.”

The former Vermont governor and presidential candidate was alluding to 1995 and 1996, when two government shutdowns under a Republican Congress helped improve President Clinton’s reelection chances. The scenario could repeat this year as budget negotiations continue to falter, and Dean said he thinks the public will blame Republicans again.

Well, it’s certainly possible that Republicans will get blamed if the budget impasse results in another government shutdown, but Dean shouldn’t be so certain.  In 1995, Republicans played chicken with Bill Clinton over their own budget, not a budget that Democrats refused to create while they held the majority.  If the government comes to a halt because Congress can’t agree on a budget that Democrats could and should have passed seven months ago, it’s no sure bet that Republicans will end up owning that failure.

Besides, the environment has changed dramatically since 1995.  Republicans took control of Congress over a series of scandals and a sense that Congress had grown too detached from the people they regulated and not so much on spending or economic issues.  Unemployment was relatively low and dropping, and deficits were a concern but not a crisis.  That is very different from today’s environment.  Even if the shutdown took place over the FY2012 budget in the fall rather than the rump FY2011 budget, the crisis stage of the deficit and national debt will make Democratic suggestions of merely a few billion in cuts look ridiculous to an electorate that just tossed them out the House majority over budgetary and economic issues in the midterm elections last year.

If that’s the ground on which Democrats want to play chicken, then they should dig their heels in on spending like drunken sailors and hope voters believe that nothing’s wrong at all with running trillion-dollar-plus annual deficits.  Let them follow Dean’s war cry and see if takes them any farther than it took Dean in 2004.

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He’s bluffing.

FloatingRock on March 29, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Drunken sailor extraordinaire. He is the perfect symbol for the left, circa 2011.

Sincere apologies to drunken Sailors.

Schadenfreude on March 29, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Republicans always seem to screw up the messaging. They have to get this down to a quick soundbite, otherwise they may lose the upper hand here.

karenhasfreedom on March 29, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful. Maybe we could get a twofer and a nuclear reactor somewhere will explode at the same time so the demorats could try and get a political advantage from it.

Bishop on March 29, 2011 at 3:01 PM

We’re gonna close the Capitol! And the Washington Monument! And the Lincoln Memorial! And the Jefferson Memorial! YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

teke184 on March 29, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Schumer is caught giving the marching orders, talking points, and buzz words to Dems that budget proposals by the Republicans are “extreme” and that they are being pushed by the TEA party. The Dems do NOT want to generate a solution to the budget impasse; they want to shut the government down and blame the Republicans.

onlineanalyst on March 29, 2011 at 3:04 PM

If they would stop all pay and benefits for the elected in dc if this doesn’t pass, see how fast things would change. That would save millions. Too bad no one has the guts to try that.

letget on March 29, 2011 at 3:05 PM

As usual, you have to factor in the fluffers in the MSM and their ability to drive public reaction. This and 2012 will be the real tests of the extent of their influence.

SKYFOX on March 29, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Close the White House and lock out Obama….again…

PatriotRider on March 29, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Apparently Dean didn’t get the OMB memo about this.

steebo77 on March 29, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Close the White House and lock out Obama….again…

PatriotRider on March 29, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Would anybody be able to tell the difference? He’s been doing his brackets and in Brazil for most of the last few weeks.

teke184 on March 29, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Close the White House and lock out Obama….again…
PatriotRider on March 29, 2011 at 3:06 PM

He and Michelle Antoinette will just break in using a crowbar like those ACORN housing thugs did in Atlanta.

In fact, those two grifters will probably be scratching at the doors of the White House for the next 30 years, demanding to be allowed back in and get their servants back.

Bishop on March 29, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Dean is counting on the State Run Media to squeal like stuck pigs if the “Government” was “shut down”…

… and of course, he is right.

Except that last November, the voters sent a message to Congress to stop the spending…

… I say ‘Shut ‘er down!

Seven Percent Solution on March 29, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Shut it down! Then watch the Democrats cave!

GarandFan on March 29, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Moments before a conference call with reporters was scheduled to get underway on Tuesday morning, apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line, Charles Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, began to instruct fellow senators on how to talk to reporters about the contentious budget process.

After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John Boehner of Ohio, the Speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. “I always use the word extreme,” Mr. Schumer said, “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell.

Then the conference call began in earnest, with the Democrats right on message.

We now have EXTREME deficits that require something more thoughtful than EXTREME mindless partisan blather.

J_Crater on March 29, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Dean is a joke through and through, his own party doesn’t even take him seriously. He froths at the mouth just getting into a mild political debate and when he gets worked up he looks rabid. Shutdown??? Bring it on.

MJZZZ on March 29, 2011 at 3:29 PM

I don’t care who gets blamed…shut it down! Keep it shut down until democrats cave or come up with the votes. If voters are dumb enough to blame the republicans, let them! Voters are the reason for all of these messes, including the budget.

Karmi on March 29, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Look at Deans eyes and you know that with one more push from his dad and he would have been born completely insane.
He is the total nonpartisan political Democrat hack.Everytime he speaks he becomes more of a buffoon.

docflash on March 29, 2011 at 3:33 PM

In a world with an unbiased newsmedia, people would understand what is happening.

But in the reality where Katie Couric and Brian Williams will lead the news with “Today, another 1000 people died because John Boehner shut the govt down” I think Dean is right.

angryed on March 29, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Hasn’t anybody done a poll on this?

Count to 10 on March 29, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Hasn’t anybody done a poll on this?

Count to 10 on March 29, 2011 at 3:39 PM

After having dinner at my in-laws Sunday night I have no doubt in my mind that Dean is right. The people will believe that the Evil Republicans are behind the government shut down because that is the narrative. Republicans are evil, they want poor people to die so they can steal all the money and never pay taxes on their obscene profits.

Lily on March 29, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Who is this Dean fellow? Sarc off

USMCDevilDog on March 29, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Howard Dean and Al Franken – the two comedic geniuses of the Democrat Party. Now all we need is for Bill Maher to join up with these two for the modern day Three Stooges!
Hmmmm… if Joy Behar married Bill Maher, we would have a Joy Behar Maher. Disgusting! My stomach just heaved at the thought.

ExpressoBold on March 29, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Lets see… a full Democratic controlled House and Senate couldn’t pass a budget in either house. Fault? Democrats.

A Republican House can pass a budget but the Democratic Senate can’t find its butt with both hands and can’t pass it. Fault? Democrats.

In 1995 at least the impasse was with the President… a Senate that can’t figure out its role is not looking all that hot in 2011… and since this time around there is sentiment from both sides of the aisle, plus fiscal conservatives, that a government shutdown of the non-required services would let people find out what it was like without them…

Hmmm… ok! I’m with Dean on this!

Shut it down! Those unable to pass a budget get the blame.

Which is the Democrat controlled Senate.

Yes, there is a difference here this time and the American people are getting very PO’d at both parties, but those doing the stopping are neither pretty nor have a coherent message.

ajacksonian on March 29, 2011 at 3:54 PM

After assurances from the press.

Speakup on March 29, 2011 at 4:03 PM


DuctTapeMyBrain on March 29, 2011 at 4:05 PM

He’s bluffing.
FloatingRock on March 29, 2011 at 2:57 PM

He’s not. And why should he bluff? He’s probably right.

I’d prefer a shutdown occur later as opposed to now. With “later” being later this year, when the 2012 budget is addressed. A shutdown then is probably inevitable, especially if entitlement reform is part of the package.

Vyce on March 29, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Why do I get the feeling Dean is excited for a takeover, so he can play Doctor Mengele.

capejasmine on March 29, 2011 at 4:18 PM

Hey GOP Pukes, you still haven’t figured it out… You’ll lose the PR battle with the WaPo and NYT crowd (no matter what you do) and you’ll be victorious in middle-America

Cuts or shut, no buts

phreshone on March 29, 2011 at 4:20 PM

This guy is a tweaker, a provocateur, and taunter.

In this case he is bluffing. Shutting down the government is the last thing he wants. He is daring us in an attempt to intimidate.

A government shutdown will damage the democrats far more than it will the Republicans and Dean knows it.

I say we pull the trigger.

DeathB4Tyranny on March 29, 2011 at 4:23 PM

More & more I think the GOP needs to be paying great PR firms, buying ads, and making videos. So many of us assume “the public” won’t understand, won’t get the truth because of the MSM.

No, we can’t count on MSM for our soundbites, can’t count on the public to read and think. GOP worries about being voted out if the public blames GOP for shutdown. Back to –> is it more important to be reelected to keep influence on events, or to do what must be done immediately?

This assumes we believe the MSM has control over elections. MSM has influence, but 2010 says MSM does NOT have control.

3rd choice – spend money, tell the public, over and over, what they need to know. Pay MSM, use every avenue to get the word out. Or is it better to save the money for a couple generations of rearguard battles while the US disintegrates?

jodetoad on March 29, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Besides, the environment has changed dramatically since 1995.

Ed – you miss what Howard Dean is really doing here …

Howard Dean knows that the “environment” has changed – but he’s betting on the fact that if he plants a seed of doubt into the RINO leadership of the GOP – then they will be too timid to risk a shutdown.

And he’s making a smart bet with this spineless GOP crowd imo. They are easily bluffed.

HondaV65 on March 29, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Fox News began in 1996. The World Wide Web was still in its early stages in 1995. There was no blogosphere in 1995. There was Rush Limbaugh and not that much else in 1995.

Did you have internet access in 1995? I did at work, only at the end of the year.

People have a lot more ways of getting information now. Maybe the MSM is still all-powerful, but there’s a lot of countervailing evidence to the contrary.

Mr. D on March 29, 2011 at 4:52 PM

This has been the Democrat strategy all along, to maneuver Republicans in Congress into a government shutdown. They’re willing to let that happen on the assumption that it will hurt Republicans. During the last shutdown, I was astonished to see how many “charities” were getting federal handouts that I hadn’t known about. I don’t mind giving tax exemptions and making contributions tax deductible, but I didn’t vote to authorize donations out of my taxes to soup kitchens, the Red Cross or other charitable organisations.

flataffect on March 29, 2011 at 5:01 PM

I don’t think anyone would be upset if the government shut down. essential functions continue to operate … and in reality we should only have those functions operating anyway.

The only people that lose out are the billions of leftist organizations that receive taxpayer money stolen by democrats.

darwin on March 29, 2011 at 5:10 PM

I don’t think anyone would be upset if the government shut down. essential functions continue to operate … and in reality we should only have those functions operating anyway.

The only people that lose out are the billions of leftist organizations that receive taxpayer money stolen by democrats.

darwin on March 29, 2011 at 5:10 PM

In a world with a normal democratic or Republican President, yes, but little Bammie is not normal. If there’s a shutdown he will look for ways to stop normal processes like Social Security for example, in order to blame the Republicans. There’s a fine line between taking advantage of a crisis and nudging that crisis along.

slickwillie2001 on March 29, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Howard Dean is one of those curious political creatures that you seriously have to wonder if they happen to occupy that place that you and I would normally refer to as “reality”.

I am just amazed that he has never struck up a deal with equally over-the-moon lunatic Alan Grayson to co-host their own news show on MSNBC. Considering the current loony lineup they have on that network, these two would definitely be within their element.

pilamaye on March 29, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Dean is a flaming idiot . . .

rplat on March 29, 2011 at 5:37 PM

And he’s making a smart bet with this spineless GOP crowd imo. They are easily bluffed.

HondaV65 on March 29, 2011 at 4:48 PM

To say the least. Whether they like it or not, it’s hardball now, and they have not a clue how it’s played. Worse yet, they don’t seem to care to learn. They have been stupid at it for decades, with no improvement in sight.

Our only hope: Another round of primaries will be here in 2012, and we can repeat 2010. Time to weed this garden yet again.

petefrt on March 29, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Finally.. Something Dr. Dean and I agree on. Being from the Limbaugh Wing of the Conservative Party, I say, shut the damn thing DOWN!!!
It is the only way to sort this PIG out!!!

mmcnamer1 on March 29, 2011 at 7:53 PM

As long as this administration has it’s no energy policy there is no way that the U.S. can recover from our fiscal crisis. Instead of pissing away 7500 on a volt or 6000000000 on corn ethanol or 300000 on a green job maybe just maybe would just allow real energy jobs.

Obama promised that the cost of energy “would neccesarily skyrocket”. Well he has kept his promise.

Don’t even talk about what Obama is doing about food.

TomLawler on March 30, 2011 at 2:37 PM