Right-wing Media Continue To Cheer For Government Shutdown

››› ››› MIKE BURNS

Right-wing media figures used bills currently under consideration in Congress to continue to cheer for a government shutdown. Conservative media had previously welcomed the possibility of winning a Republican majority in Congress in order to shut down the government, "just like in '95 and '96."

Conservative Media Welcome Government Shutdown

Limbaugh Calls For A Government Shutdown Over Spending Bill. On the December 15 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said:

LIMBAUGH: Ten percent of the spending bill is earmarks. You just -- as I've said -- you just don't write a 2,000 page bill in a week's time. This has been long in development. Talk about strategic thinking. Now if -- here's the -- here's the key, folks. If the Senate does not adopt it by Saturday night -- this is why the getaway day was Friday. [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV] dumps this yesterday. If the Senate doesn't adopt this by Saturday night, the government supposedly shuts down due to lack of funding. So people have been asking me in email, how can we stop it? How can we stop it? We call their bluff. We shut it down. We won the election. We shut it down.

Folks, I don't care. But Rush, but Rush, with the media the Democrats won't get blamed for it. I don't care. We won't be held accountable until November of 2012. Don't -- folks, remember what I just said. They know that they're not going to be held accountable for anything until November 2012, and we won't be either. Well, if there is a shutdown, it's going to be short-lived, and the government will get running again. What would you rather do, accept all this? It's blackmail. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/15/10]

Fox's MacCallum and Bolling Agree That A Government Shutdown Wouldn't Be "The End Of The World." On the December 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum suggested it wouldn't be "the end of the world" if "the government stops operating for a little while." Fox Business anchor Eric Bolling added that Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) had said, "So what if it shuts down for a little while? Let it -- let it wait till January 4 and find out if we really need botanical researcher -- ethnobotanicals." From America's Newsroom:

MACCALLUM: And most of these boil down to favors from --

BOLLING: Bingo.

MACCALLUM: -- special interests and people who end up -- guess what -- making campaign donations down the line/

BOLLING: Bingo.

MACCALLUM: So that everybody's trying to keep somebody happy out there. You know, so what if the government stops operating for a little while.

BOLLING: Great.

MACCALLUM: Is that the end of the world?

BOLLING: Bingo. Right idea. In fact, I have Michelle Bachmann on the show tonight, and I think she's in favor of saying, you know what? I'm not gonna sign this stuff. Look -- I spoke to her earlier in the week and she said this is terrible. This is God awful. So what if it shuts down for a little while? Let it -- let it wait till January 4 and find out if we really need botanical researcher -- ethnobotanicals. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 12/16/10]

Gingrich Defends Government Shutdown In Advising GOP To Absolutely Stop Passage Of Spending Bill. Fox News contributor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich defended a government shutdown on the December 16 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

JENNA SCOTT (host): So, Speaker Gingrich, you were willing to shut down the government back in 1995. Considering the scenario we're in right now, would you be willing to do it here?

GINGRICH: Well, let's start with the premise you can't have the president or the liberal Democrats blackmailing the Republicans. It's fairly easy to write a clean continuing resolution to keep the government open till the end of February. Every Republican, I think, would be willing to vote for a clean resolution, but I think Republicans should absolutely stop an abomination that has 8,000 earmarks. The whole election centered around politicians with pork taking your money to decide what to do with your money. And the fact is the liberals lost that. In the House they lost it by the largest margin since 1948. So there's no reason for a lame duck congress. 12 of the senators have either retired or been defeated, yet they're still voting. In the House the Democrats have lost control, yet Nancy Pelosi is still in charge.

[...]

SCOTT: But let's talk a little bit about the risk that goes along with a temporary shutdown of the government. Taking a look back and seeing what happened in 1995, would you say it was worth it? It was worth the risk not only --

GINGRICH: Absolutely.

SCOTT: -- to the country? Absolutely? And why is that?

GINGRICH: Absolutely. For two reasons. First of all, as Republicans, no majority in the House had been reelected since 1928. When we stood firm against liberals, and we said we were prepared to really fight, all of our base said, you know, these folks are different. They're not normal politicians. They just don't go to Washington to sell out. And we became the first reelected Republican majority since 1928. I've always been puzzled why the Washington establishment, which is liberal, has always said it was a mistake.

But there's a second reason. The shutdown convinced President Clinton that we were serious about balancing the budget. As a result, we controlled spending at 2.9 percent a year -- the lowest rate since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s. We got to a balanced budget by cutting taxes to increase economic growth. And the result was we balanced the budget for four straight years and paid off [break in audio] five billion dollars in debt. Now, they had -- they had to believe that the Republicans were genuinely serious in order for them to have that kind of negotiation when you had a liberal Democrat in the White House.

The result was a bipartisan effort that reformed welfare, cut taxes and balanced the budget with a full employment economy. That ought to be the goals that we set for the next Congress, and have the courage to stand toe to toe and say to the president, you're not going to be able to intimidate us and blackmail on basic principle. We're going to do what's right and rely on the American people to see what's happening. [Fox News, Happening Now, 12/16/10]

Limbaugh: "The Tax Deal Doesn't Pass" Or "We Shut It Down. Whichever." On the December 16 edition of his show, Limbaugh stated:

LIMBAUGH: If I'm a Republican leader in the House, and I hear the president say his presidency will fall on this tax bill not passing, then I make sure it doesn't pass. I make -- because he knows he's gonna get the blame for it. If the tax rates go up we can put it all on him. He's as much as saying we can. So let it fail. We can fix this in the first two weeks of next year. It's simple. The president says his presidency rises and falls on this, fine. This time it falls. The tax deal doesn't pass and -- or we shut it down. Whichever. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/16/10]

Asman: "We Have To Shrink The Government, And If That Means Shutting Down The Government Then So Be It." On the December 16 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman railed against a proposed omnibus spending bill, claiming that it "shows a complete disregard for any kind of fiscal responsibility." He then added: "We have to shrink the government, and if that means shutting down the government then so be it." From America's Nightly Scoreboard:

ASMAN: Would shutting the place down really be such a bad idea? Well, they certainly need some kind of wakeup call for all the craziness going on there, because the Beltway bandits are rolling us once again. Nancy Pelosi and her outgoing Congress are sticking it to every single taxpayer out there in this final spending bill. The omnibus spending bill being read right now in the Senate, or just about to be, shows a complete disregard for any kind of fiscal responsibility. That and the pork-filled tax bill are insults to every American who's been cutting back to get by in these tough times. And every American who cares about our future. Now, today happens to be the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. It is a perfect time to focus back on principles. Founding principles. The principles that led to the last election. Principles that led to our revolution to begin with. We have to shrink the government, and if that means shutting down the government then so be it. They can't continue to slap us in the face and get away with it. [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 12/16/10]

O'Reilly On Possible Government Shutdown: "Good. These Pinheads Need Some Time Off." On the December 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly stated:

O'REILLY: If the feds don't pass a new spending bill, the government might shut down in a few days, and I say good. These pinheads need some time off. The Wall Street Journal says this is the worst Congress in modern history, and the folks seem to agree. New Gallup poll says 13 percent of Americans believe the current Congress is doing a good job, 13 percent. And now our pal Harry Reid, along with Appropriations Chairman Senator Daniel Inouye [D-HI], have dumped a trillion dollar plus spending bill on the Senate floor a few days before Christmas. Of course, the bill is loaded with pork. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 12/16/10]

Right-wing Media Previously "Giddy" Over Possibility Of Government Shutdown

Right-Wing Media Figures Previously Celebrated A Possible Government Shutdown. As Media Matters has noted, over the past year, conservative media figures pushed for a government shutdown. For instance:

  • In an August 30 Twitter post, Erick Erickson proclaimed: "I'm almost giddy thinking about a government shutdown next year. I cannot wait!"
  • 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."
  • In an April 13 article, The Hill reported that "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.' "

Previous Shutdowns Cost At Least $800 million

Time: Government Shutdowns In 1995-96 Reportedly Cost At Least $800 Million. 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." [Time, 3/23/2010]

Congressional Research Service: Previous Shutdowns Delayed Veterans Benefits and Suspended Law Enforcement Activities. In 2004, the Congressional Research Service stated that during the shutdowns, veterans' health and welfare programs were curtailed, health care and toxic waste clean-up programs were reportedly suspended, and certain law enforcement programs were curtailed. [Congressional Research Service, 9/4/2004]

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