Right-wing "cannot wait" for gov't shutdown, "just like in '95 and '96"

››› ››› BROOKE OBIE

The right-wing media is "giddy" over the possibility of winning a Republican majority in Congress in order to shut down the government. The shutdowns cost the government at least $800 million, furloughed over a million workers, delayed veterans benefits, shut down federally funded research, and suspended certain law enforcement activities, among other things.

The 1995-1996 gov't shutdowns had massive impact on public and cost the government at least $800 million

Federal government shutdowns occur when Congress cannot agree to pass a federal budget. According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, Federal government shutdowns occur for the following reasons:

Shutdowns of the federal government have occurred in the past due to failures to pass regular appropriations bills by the October 1 deadline; lack of an agreement on stopgap funding for federal government operations through a continuing resolution; and other impasses, for example, in 1995, the lack of an agreement on lifting the federal debt ceiling.

Then-speaker Gingrich was criticized for orchestrating two government shutdowns in FY 1996, which cost the government at least $800 million. Between November 1995 and January 1996, two federal government shutdowns occurred. As Time reported:

As the clocks struck midnight on Nov. 14, 1995, so began the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. For 21 days -- from Nov. 14-19 and again from Dec. 16, 1995-Jan. 6, 1996 -- nonessential government employees stayed home while their leaders fought to pass a federal budget. The shutdown was sparked when an agreement between President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress (led by then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich) could not be reached by Sept. 30, the expiration date of the previous year's budget. In the end, the shutdown, which cost the government $800 million in losses for salaries paid to furloughed employees, was settled when Clinton submitted a budget that proposed to eliminate the federal deficit in seven years.

Delay: Gingrich "told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him...sit at the back of Air Force One." In his book No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight, Tom Delay, who was the Republican House Whip at the time of the shutdown, wrote:

Negotiations spiraled downward, and after Clinton vetoed a stopgap spending bill, funding for government services ran out, and a shutdown began on November 13, 1995. Not long after, Gingrich made the mistake of his life. He told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One and exit from the rear on a flight to the funeral of assassinated Israeli prime minister [sic] Yitzak Rabin. It was pitiful. The New York Daily News carried the headline "Cry Baby" above a drawing of Newt as a screaming baby in diapers. The Democrats even tried to take a blowup of the cover onto the floor of the House.

The Hill also reported that Gingrich orchestrated the shutdown after President Bill Clinton made him and Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) sit at the back of Air Force One on a trip:

Gingrich received heavy criticism for helping to engineer the shutdown after it was reported he said that it was partially a result of Clinton's making former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and him sit at the back of Air Force One.

Over 1 million federal employees were furloughed. According to the CRS report, over 1 million federal employees were furloughed as a result of the 1995-1996 government shutdown:

The most recent shutdowns occurred in FY1996. There were two during the early part of the fiscal year. The first, November 14-19, 1995, resulted in the furlough of an estimated 800,000 federal employees. It was caused by the expiration of a continuing funding resolution (P.L. 104-31) agreed to on September 30, 1995, and by President Clinton's veto of a second continuing resolution and a debt limit extension bill.

The second FY1996 partial shutdown of the federal government, and the longest in history, began on December 16, 1995, and ended on January 6, 1996, after the White House and Congress agreed on a new resolution (P.L. 104-94) to fund the government through January 26, 1996. On January 2, 1996, the estimate of furloughed federal employees was 284,000.8 Another 475,000 federal employees, rated "essential," continued to work in a non-pay status. The shutdown was triggered by the expiration of a continuing funding resolution enacted on November 20 (P.L. 104-56), which funded the government through December 15, 1995. There were several short-term continuing resolutions between January 6, 1996, and April 26, 1996, when P.L. 104-134 was enacted to fund any agencies or programs not yet funded through FY1996.

Time: Shutdown "cost the government $800 million in losses for salaries paid to furloughed employees." Time reported that the "the shutdown was sparked when an agreement between President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress (led by then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich) could not be reached by Sept. 30, the expiration date of the previous year's budget. In the end, the shutdown, which cost the government $800 million in losses for salaries paid to furloughed employees, was settled when Clinton submitted a budget that proposed to eliminate the federal deficit in seven years."

American veterans received "major curtailment in services," including health services. The CRS reported that American veterans received "[m]ajor curtailment in services, ranging from health and welfare to finance and travel."

Health research, toxic waste clean-up were shut down. The CRS reported that, according to "congressional hearings, press and agency accounts," new patients were not admitted to NIH:

New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance (information about the spread of diseases, such as AIDS and flu, were unavailable); hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered; and toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites stopped, resulting in 2,400 "Superfund" workers being sent home.

Hiring of 400 border patrol agents was suspended. The CRS report showed that law enforcement services were suspended, including hiring 400 border patrol agents.

Delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases was suspended; cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal law-enforcement officials occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents; and delinquent child-support cases were suspended.

200,000 U.S. visa/passport applications went unprocessed; tourist industries suffered millions of dollars in losses. The CRS reported that:

20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners for visas went unprocessed each day; 200,000 U.S. applications for passports went unprocessed; and U.S. tourist industries and airlines sustained millions of dollars in losses.

Parks/Museums/Monuments closed costing $14.2 million per day in tourism revenue. The CRS reported an estimated loss of $14.2 million per day in local communities near the national parks, museums, and monuments due to the shutdown:

Closure of 368 National Park Service sites (loss of 7 million visitors) occurred, with local communities near national parks losing an estimated $14.2 million per day in tourism revenues; and closure of national museums and monuments (estimated loss of 2 million visitors) occurred.

Nonetheless, right-wing media "giddy" for a similar shutdown

Erickson: "I'm almost giddy thinking about a government shutdown next year. I cannot wait!" Via Twitter, Erick Erickson proclaimed:

Erickson tweet 1

In response to criticism over this statement, Erickson replied:

Erickson tweet 2

Morris: "There's going to be a government shutdown just like in '95 and '96, but we're going to win it this time." On August 27, Fox News correspondent Dick Morris gave a speech at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation's Defending the Dream Conference, saying: "There's going to be a government shutdown just like in '95 and '96, but we're going to win it this time."

So, it's going to be same time next year, guys and women. Same time next year. We're going to be back here and we're going to be pressuring the people who we helped elect to oppose big spending and we will be telling them you do not tread on us. Now, there's going to be a government shutdown just like in '95 and '96, but we're going to win it this time, and I'll be fighting on your side.

Gingrich using his old 1995 game plan to shape new GOP strategy: Take back Congress, "refuse to fund," and force Obama to respond. In April 13 article, The Hill reported on Gingrich's comments encouraging the GOP to cause a government shutdown over health care reform:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said Tuesday that a government shutdown could occur should Republicans attempt to strip funding for the new healthcare law next Congress.

[...]

"A simple majority can refuse to fund. So, if you have Boehner as speaker and Mitch McConnell as majority leader, all you have to do is not write into the appropriations bill the money," Gingrich said at a breakfast sponsored by The American Spectator and Americans for Tax Reform. "If the president vetoes the appropriations bills, you repass them.

"The president has got to make it into a positive political issue to veto the appropriations bills. Remember, the only person who can close the government is the president. If you're prepared to pass the appropriations bills, he has to decide to veto a bill you have passed. And so you simply pass a bill."

[...]

"You have to consistently communicate key messages because the presidency is such a powerful instrument," he said. "I think this city has fundamentally misunderstood what happened with the shutdown. To most of the country, it became a signal that we were serious...If we win we have every right to say 'the American people have spoken."

Asked if he would encourage the Republicans to push for a shutdown, Gingrich said that the GOP needs to be ready to stand on principle.

"It's especially important that they keep their word to the American people," he told The Hill. "[They] can't be intimidated...you have to believe what you believe in."

Dave Weigel reported that Gingrich similarly encouraged Republicans to send Obama a budget which refused to fund health care reform, and see if Obama "decide[s]...he's going to veto the bill" or not. From Wiegel's April 13 report:

At a luncheon at the Heritage Foundation -- his second meeting with conservative journalists and bloggers today -- Newt Gingrich expanded a bit on his argument, made most recently at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, that a new Republican Congress could roll back the Democrats' victory on health-care reform by refusing to fund it. I asked Gingrich how this would work, given the experience of Republicans in the winter of 1995 when a showdown over the budget forced a government shutdown.

"Wait a second," said Gingrich. "This is the standard, elite, inside-the-Beltway worldview. Tell me in what way we didn't win. After that, we got to a balanced budget. And what happened to the Republican majority?" The answer, of course, is that Republicans held the majority in 1996, while President Bill Clinton was reelected.

[...]

Gingrich, having argued that the 1995 shutdown was good for Republicans, argued that a potential battle over health care would be even better. "There's a new poll out this morning," said Gingrich, referring to a Rasmussen Reports study. "By 58 to 38, people want to repeal the health-care bill. It'll get worse as people learn more and as the failure of the bill becomes more obvious. So if you take that model, all the Republican Congress needs to say in January is, 'We won't fund it.' What the president needs to decide is: He's going to veto the bill. He needs to force a crisis on an issue that's a 58 to 38 issue. And it's going to get worse. It'll be 2 to 1 or better by the time we get down to the fight. Because this bill is terrible."

I followed up with Gingrich after the speech, largely to clarify how Clinton's reelection figured into this recollection of the shutdown. According to Gingrich, Clinton simply over-matched the Republicans in 1996 and skillfully made the speaker of the House his target. The ability of Republicans to hold onto Congress was impressiveness nonetheless. "I always look back on the budget fight as the moment our base decided we were real, that we weren't just politicians," said Gingrich. "I believe -- and John Kasich and Bob Livingston agree with me -- if we had backed off, we never would have gotten to a balanced budget."

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