Brace yourselves: If Congress and the White House don't reach a budget deal by March 4, the government will shut down. That scenario carries huge political risks for President Obama and Republicans, but neither side is ready to capitulate. A government shutdown in the mid-1990s closed national parks and museums, delayed federally-funded research, curtailed veterans' health and welfare services — and also ultimately burned House Republicans while boosting President Bill Clinton's fortunes. Is history bound to repeat itself? (Watch Obama warn about shutdown hysteria)
A shutdown seems likely: The House GOP isn't going to cut a deal with Obama, says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic, at least not until they've gone "to the mat." And that means shutting down the government. The fact that "Tea Party Republicans sound awfully eager" for a shutdown makes this "even more likely."
"Is a government shutdown inevitable?"
Republicans won't risk a repeat of 1995: House GOP budget chief Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have both ruled out a shutdown, says Doug Mataconis in Outside the Beltway. Ryan says that if needed, the House will pass "temporary stop-gap measures" until a long-term budget deal is reached. So "obviously, the GOP has learned the lessons of the 1995-96 shutdown": It would not "work to their benefits politically."
"Paul Ryan rules out government shutdown"
A shutdown would hurt Democrats this time: This isn't 1995, says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, and "if Democrats choose to play chicken with a government shutdown again, they may belatedly discover" their strategic error. "The budget was in much healthier shape" in 1995, and "so was the economy." In 2011, there's major "political pressure" to fix our "debt crisis," which strengthens the GOP's bargaining position.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
When Americans banned Christmas
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
Subscribe to the Week