Opinion Brief

Are Democrats secretly hoping for a government shutdown?

Liberal standard bearer Howard Dean says Democrats should be "quietly rooting" for a shutdown, because of the political damage it would inflict on the GOP. Is he right?

The U.S. is ambling toward an April 8 government shutdown, and former Democratic National Committee head Howard Dean says his party should "be quietly rooting for it." As Dean argued at a National Journal forum on Tuesday, Republicans would take the blame (as they did after shutdowns in 1995 and 1996) and that, even though a shutdown — inevitable if Republicans and Democrats fail to reach a long-term budget deal by the end of next week — would be bad for the country, "from a partisan point of view, I think it would be the best thing in the world." Would such a crisis really help the Democrats?

Democrats should root for a shutdown: Both parties are pushing us toward a shutdown, but "the Democrats are right," says Peter Robinson in Ricochet. "Republicans will take most of the blame." And for what? A "glorious but losing stand" that ends in defeat in 2012? It's like "watching one of those controlled, slow-motion car crashes," except that "inside are 87 GOP House freshmen who have no idea... what's about to happen to them.""Why we're headed for a government shutdown"

The Left should be careful what it wishes for: "It's certainly possible that Republicans will get blamed" for a shutdown, like they did in the 90s when Bill Clinton trumped Newt Gingrich, says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. But things have "changed dramatically since 1995," and Democrats should be very wary of "playing chicken" this year. First, we're fighting over a budget they failed to pass last year. And more importantly, voters rightly see the Democrats' puny cuts as "ridiculous" given our current fiscal "crisis.""Dean says he's rooting for a government shutdown"

Obama in particular should embrace a shutdown: Republicans aren't being serious about our "shocking" budget problems, either, so Obama should call their bluff, says Eliot Spitzer in Slate. He should vow to veto any budget fix that doesn't tackle Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense — areas that the GOP's ballyhooed but "irrelevant" cuts don't touch. Only in "embracing the possibility of a shutdown" can Obama "trump them at their own game." There's your "'leadership' moment.""Shut down the government, Mr. President"

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