Fear of a Government Shutdown?

Leading Democrats are hoping for a government shutdown over the budget, convinced they will be able to blame Republicans and score political points.

"If I was (sic) head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for it," said Dean, speaking on a National Journal Insider's Conference panel Tuesday morning. "I know who's going to get blamed - we've been down this road before."

The Democrats and Liberals in general pride themselves on always being the smartest people in the room.  They claim to always be a step ahead of those Neanderthal conservatives who are stuck in the past, and as for those really dumb people in fly-over country -- well there's just no hope for them.  Yet these same self-proclaimed movers and shakers are always reverting to a 70 year old tattered and threadbare political playbook and assume whatever may have worked to their benefit in the past will work again.

Today the Democrats, Chuck Schumer and Howard Dean and their sycophants in the media among others, are out publicly cheerleading and plotting to force a government shutdown in the assumption that they will win in the court of public opinion as they perceive they did in 1995.  But did they succeed in destroying the Republicans in 1995 and what were the circumstances then versus now?

Sixteen years in politics is a lifetime; for those Republicans with weak knees in the House and Senate, perhaps a primer of what the facts on the ground were in 1995 (the last government shutdown blamed on the Republicans) as compared to today is in order.

In 1995 the unemployment rate was 5.6%; today, 9.0%.  (Gallup has a more accurate reading of 10.0%).  The U-6 unemployment rate was 9.9% today 17.0% (the U-6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full time employment but also marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.)  (Gallup shows that figure to be 19.0%) The unemployment rates are up 62 and 72% respectively.   

The federal budget deficit in 1995 was $172 billion; by the end of fiscal 2011 it will be nearly $1.65 Trillion.  (adjusting for inflation: the annual deficit is up by 543%)   The deficit as a percent of GDP in 1995 was 3.2% in 2011 it will be 11.3%.

The national debt at the end of 1995 was $4.9 Trillion; at the end of 2011 it will be $14.5 Trillion.  (adjusting for inflation: the national debt is up 106%, or more than double).  The national debt was 66% of GDP in 1995 and will be nearly 100% of GDP in 2011.  

Overall government (federal, state and local) spending has also skyrocketed.  In 1995, $2.63 Trillion was spent; in 2011 it will be $6.3 Trillion.  (adjusted for inflation: overall spending is up 70%).  In 1995 this spending was 35% of the GDP; today it exceeds 46% of the GDP. 

In 1995, the federal government budget was $1.6 Trillion; President Obama has proposed for 2011 a budget of $3.75 Trillion.  (adjusted for inflation: an increase of 67%)   

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 1995 grew over 4.5% from the previous year.  In 2010 the GDP grew only at 2.3% over the previous year.

Another point of economic comparison is the price of oil.  In 1995 it was $17.99 a barrel, today it is $105.00 (an increase of 304% adjusted for inflation).

The Democrats cannot escape the fact that all this devastating economic news over the past 3 years occurred when they either controlled Congress or had a stranglehold on White House and the Congress.

In 1995, the American citizen was not engaged in the political process.  Per the above statistics, the economy was doing well and the average citizen was content to go about his business.

There were no foreign wars ongoing, no terror activity, and no upheavals in the Middle East with the very real prospect of jihadist takeovers in Egypt, Libya and Yemen in addition to a nuclear armed Iran.  The world is a far more dangerous place than it was in 1995 or even 2008.

In the venue of the media there was no Fox News, no internet blogs or news and commentary sites, and talk radio (dominated by conservatives) was a quarter of what it is today.  The media that so aided and abetted the Democrats to spin the 1995 shutdown as a Republican blunder is a shadow of its former self.

But the ultimate determination of the supposed disaster that befell the Republicans is what happened in the next election in 1996 less than a year after the shutdown.  This was also a presidential election year wherein Bill Clinton carried 31 states soundly defeating Bob Dole by over 8.3 million votes.  Yet the Republicans picked up 2 seats in the Senate and lost only 9 in the House after winning a then unprecedented 54 seats in 1994.  The Republicans also maintained control of the House for the next ten years until 2006.

The atmosphere that allowed Bill Clinton, the Democrats and their allies in the media to blame the shutdown on the Republicans does not exist today.  In fact it is the polar opposite.  The Republican leadership of the House and Senate need to understand that.

The people are now engaged.  They are aware of the nation's debt and spending crisis which will lead to national bankruptcy.  The Tea Party movement is unlike any other in recent American history and confirms the anxiety of the vast majority of the people as to the future.  A shutdown will not result in Social Security checks or other vital services being curtailed only the temporary stoppage of non-essential services. 

There is an old adage: if you go back to the well too often, it runs out of water.  Both parties need to heed that advice.
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