Will the GOP 'Shut Down' the Government in 2011?

They might have backed themselves into a corner

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There's been a degree of concern that incoming GOP congressional leadership could "shut down" the federal government by refusing to pass a budget, much as they did in 1995 after winning both houses the year before. That is widely seen in retrospect as both a damaging abuse and a political mistake that helped Democrats regain popularity. Will the GOP repeat the "shutdown"? What if they do? To give an example of the pro-shutdown wing of the GOP, here's Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert urging a shutdown, and below that the analysis on whether his party will go through with it.

  • Conservative Leader Calls for Shutdown  Talking Points Memo's Evan McMorris-Santoro writes, "Grover Norquist wants to party like it's 1995. The Americans for Tax Reform chief and noted Ronald Reagan fan says that Republicans would really do themselves a favor by forcing another government shutdown like they did the last time they took over the House when a Democratic president was in office. ... If the government were to be shut down thanks to a budget dispute between the White House and the Republicans in Congress next year, however, Norquist says the only person who'd suffer politically would be President Obama."
  • Rand Paul: Don't Shut Down Gov't  Incoming Tea Party Senator Rand Paul tells Newsmax, "I think shutting down the government is a mistake. Nobody really wants that. That’s sort of government by chaos. ... What you really want is government where we say, 'We have several months to discuss this. Let’s go ahead and have a budget.'"
  • GOP May Have Given Themselves No Choice but Shutdown  The New Republic's Jonathan Chait warns, "I think a lot of people are underrating the potential for a government shutdown. ... shutting down the government is the only alternative to passing legislation that conservatives find totally unacceptable, and indeed would keep in place policies that they have been railing against in apocalyptic terms. You can't convince your base that the president is destroying freedom, undermining capitalism, and threatening 1920s Germany-style inflation, and then turn around and tell them to just wait things out for two years."
  • Could Pro-Shutdown Republicans Overpower Leadership?  The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen notes that at least two high-profile GOP legislators, Eric Cantor and Rand Paul, have warned against a shut-down. But it's not clear whether "Republican leaders are going to have much of a choice. The party has told its base that it will not compromise on anything with anyone. It has a legion of freshman joining the ranks on the Hill, and nearly all are rabid right-wing ideologues, who expect Boehner, Cantor, et al, to wage a fierce, partisan war. ... Whether the incoming Speaker has the ability to lead his caucus away from that cliff remains to be seen."
  • Debt Ceiling Opposition Could Cause Shutdown  Think Progress's Lee Fang says a number of GOP legislators oppose raising the debt ceiling, which could cause the U.S. government to default, and not only shut it down but "cause a global economic tailspin. ... In opposing the debt ceiling vote, the GOP freshmen have sought to cast themselves as courageous fiscal conservatives. However, in reality such a drastic move 'would recklessly disrupt the sale and purchase of new Treasury bonds, and could potentially cause a run on outstanding Treasurys as well, as investors sought other investments.' As the Center for American Progress’ David Min reported, the GOP-led effort to kill the debt ceiling vote 'could have catastrophic consequences for our economy as well as the economic stability of the rest of the world.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.