Remember back in the mid-1990s when the federal government completely stopped all "non-essential services" as a result of a budget-related game of chicken between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich? Well, according to the Stan Collender, a politics and economics blogger over at Gapital Gains and Games, we could be in for another one in 2011.
Even though the common wisdom is that the two government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 were unmitigated political disasters for congressional Republicans, there is serious increasing talk about it being a prime strategy next year if the GOP is in the majority in the House and Senate. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was one of the architects of the failed shut-the-government strategy back in the 1990s, raised the idea back in April in connection with health care. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), a vice chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, spoke about it publicly last week.
Obviously, the fact that Gingrich and Westmoreland both raised the possibility of a shutdown doesn't constitute a real plan to make it happen. But it does make you nervous. Ironically, these government shutdowns end up costing a lot of money (the last one cost $800 million) and can really disrupt the lives of any contractors who do work for the government. They're also just dispiriting.