Government Shutdown: All In?

I am kind of looking forward to March 4, 2011. That’s the date that the Republicans and Democrats in Washington must come to an agreement on a new spending plan or the Federal Government will cease most operations.

The spending by Washington is out of control and that is a fact. The two sides (Republicans and Democrats) have different ideas on how much to cut and how much to spend.

The biggest question is can the Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate handle this shutdown better than they did in 1995 and 1996 when they lost the public opinion game big time. Back then the Federal Government shutdown November 14-19, 1995, and December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996.

During that time, President Bill Clinton came out the winner and House Speaker Newt Gingrich lost his mojo. Some reports say that Speaker Gingrich was miffed at Clinton for making him sit in the back of Air Force One and decided to take his toys and go home. Clinton’s approval rating climbed and he easily beat Bob Dole for President in 1996 (379 electoral votes to 159).

Gingrich never had much power after that.

Questions, questions…

There are several services that will probably be delayed or stopped if the Federal Government shuts down (Veterans, Social Security, Passports, etc.). These groups will be angry if they don’t get their checks or services. Which political party can get these groups to side with them?

Do the Republicans have a person who can step up as the leader and not make the mistakes of Gingrich?

If the Government does shut down, this could be President Obama’s moment to shine – he has the “bully pulpit.” Obama could easily see his approval ratings climb right into an easy victory for a second term.

On the other hand, the Republicans are riding a wave from last November. Are they willing to go “all in” on this issue?

If the leaders do come up with a compromise, then the question will be who can frame the compromise best as a victory?

Nine Days…

It is nine days until March 4 and since Congress is not in session, the “talking points” game is being played by the members of Congress. Soon they will be back in Washington where the real debate will begin.

It should be fun to watch the jockeying and see the elbows being thrown. Whichever side wins the public opinion battle will have the inside track for the elections of 2012.