The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Déjà vu – government shutdown fifteen years later

Déjà vu (French – literally “already seen”) is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation.

The sticking point was the GOP demand that the President agree to their version of a balanced budget. In months of negotiations, the President had actually given a far amount of ground, infuriating Democrats on the left. He agreed to a balanced budget over seven years, to tax cuts, to changes in mandatory spending programs such as Medicare. But the two sides were remained far apart on the pace of spending cuts — and even further apart on the policies behind those cuts.” The Republicans made a mistake: “They appeared to be too eager for a confrontation, while the President constantly emphasized he was willing to compromise within reason.

In the end, after weeks of turmoil, the Republicans meekly gave up and eventually cut a deal with the President that was not much different than what they could have gotten before the shutdown. The President used the episode as the springboard for his successful reelection campaign.

This is slightly modified from Lessons from the great government shutdown of 1995-1996 by Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post. The President in that story is Bill Clinton and he was negotiating with Newt Gingrich, GOP Speaker of the House of Representatives. The situation then is almost exactly the same as it is now with with the debt ceiling standoff, but magnified. Now the National economy is much more tenuous and the damage done by a government shutdown or default will be more severe.

It’s obvious that President Obama has learned the lessons of 1995 – 1996, and he has modeled his strategy after President Clinton’s. Unlike the government shutdowns of the Clinton administration, with GOP leadership being the driving force behind the confrontation, now Speaker Boehner is being driven by a radical splinter group in his own party.  In the 1990s Newt Gingrich miscalculated and made a mistake. In 2011 the Tea Party and its GOP pawns are willing to bet the farm in a self-righteous grab for power. Never once, it seems, have the Tea Party activists asked themselves, “What if we are wrong?”


Written by Tom Fox

07/30/2011 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Politics

2 Responses

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  1. […] of 1995 – 1996 during the Clinton administration, and the political results will be the same. Déjà vu – government shutdown fifteen years later. Only then will Obama relent and save the […]

  2. […] What happens is the fight continues, except the Republicans’ ability to play the nuclear option of debt limit default has been removed. They shot their wad already. The Republicans will be back to stomping their feet and pouting. I predict that it will take at least one government shutdown after October 1 and before the end of the year, and possibly a second shutdown in the spring of 2012. It will be Déjà vu – government shutdown fifteen years later. […]

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