It’s feeling like Déjà vu all over again. I was a young congressional staffer when Bill Clinton shut the government down in 1995.
What? You think the Republicans shut the government down? Oh, but you would be wrong. The Republicans passed and sent to the President a funding bill that would have kept the government open and allowed an increase in the debt ceiling. But because Clinton didn’t want to balance the budget by 2002, he vetoed the bill, thereby forcing a government shutdown.
So here we are again, with federal spending pushing up against another debt ceiling and the government funded through the end of March.
According to a Politico story, more than half of House Republicans are willing to allow the United States to default and even more, including some in leadership, are willing to see a government shutdown.
Conventional wisdom in the beltway is that Republicans will be blamed for default or shutdown, and Obama is acting as if it’s a foregone conclusion that he will get what he wants.
The problem is that his reelection was not exactly a mandate. Yes, he “won” the December tax fight by getting a tax increase on “rich people,” but the American people are tired of the exploding Washington spending and debt—on both sides of the aisle.
Keep in mind, when we had the showdown over the debt ceiling in 1995, the debt was “only” $4.8 trillion. Today it is $16.4 trillion – of which a whopping $6.5 trillion has been incurred under Obama.
Obama’s lip service to reducing the deficit and debt is getting tiresome. He may think that because he was elected he can continue to push his agenda of ever-increasing government spending and debt. He may even think that such an agenda will deliver him a Democrat House for the last two years of his administration.
He is wrong if he thinks such things. The American people may not like a government shutdown, but it will be the politicians that don’t hold the line on spending that will be rejected by voters in 2014. There are plenty of Senate Democrats facing voters in 2014 who must tread carefully.