The government shutdown has entered its fourth day, and CNN reports Republicans and Democrats are no closer to “bridging their differences” then they were earlier in the week. But is this shut down much different than the one 17 years ago?
There are some similarities. According to CNN, “The last time there was a partial government shutdown, there was a Democrat in the White House and Republicans controlled the House of Representatives.” We also know the shut down lasted a whopping 27 days. Experts contend, however, that the conditions for getting to a deal were much better in 1995. The issues, however, were similar. The Republicans wanted the government to spend less money and the Democrats wanted to spend more on Democratic priorities. The Republicans eventually negotiated with President Clinton to stop the government shutdown.
The pressure on the Republicans to cut a deal and end the government shutdown may also be similar, although there hasn’t been too much back lash yet, it is possible that if the poll numbers do begin to drop rapidly for Republicans we may see more impetus to compromise. According to former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who was a freshman in Congress at the time, “There was a revolt, and they simply couldn’t hold their members after a while.”
Other congressional members saw the situation a bit differently. For instance, Bob Walker, then a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, believed the Republicans did emerge victorious because they were able “to get a pathway to a balanced budget.” The Republicans were also able to work together with Democrats on a host of issues including welfare reform.
Government shutdown- What is the difference now?
The Republicans main push this go-around is to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, President Obama sees this as his crowning achievement of his first term and has been unwilling to capitulate.
What’s more, the president has no reason to negotiate. Mr. Obama has no re-election campaign to worry about – like Clinton did. Republicans also have little reason to negotiate. There base hates the new healthcare law and Congressmen who fail to fight against the law will have difficulty wooing Republican primary voters.
Another notable difference- the contempt many feel the president has towards his opponents in Congress. Many have stated that the atmosphere for negotiating is not very good. And they may be right. For instance, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Mr. Obama have barely talked, aside from a meeting the president held with top congressional leaders Wednesday afternoon. What about in 1995? Rumor has it that although Gingrich and Clinton disagreed, they actually had a decent personal relationship and were civil to one another.
What may make a difference? The looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling should bring everyone back to the negotiating table. While the effects of the government shutdown may be limited for most Americans, the possibility of the U.S. defaulting is much more likely to cause financial panic that could push Democrats and Republicans into a deal.
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