Tag Archives: Government Shutdown 1995

The Impact Of The 1990’s Shutdown

Clinton Shutdown

The last time that the federal government was shutdown as in the 90’s.  President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich didn’t see eye to eye.  The shutdown came in two parts with the longest such disruption lasting 3 weeks.

Who paid the price?

It’s widely understood that the republican’s lost.  Scott Erb even has a post as such:

The first shut down was from November 14-19, 1995,  followed by a second from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996.  The Republicans suffered politically from that shutdown…

Indeed.  Republicans suffered politically.  However, what would that mean?  To me, a political loss would manifest itself in any number of ways:

  1. Loss of Presidential Election
  2. Loss of seats in the House
  3. Loss of seats in the Senate
  4. Loss of policy debate

A very strong case can be made that the democrats won on point #1.  Clinton went on  win his second term.  However, the debate is much less clear after that.

Take the House for example.  The make-up in the years before and after the shutdown:

1993-1995  258 Democrats with 176 Republicans

1995-1997  204 Democrats with 230 Republicans

1997-1999  207 Democrats with 227 Republicans

The Senate?

1993-1995  57 Democrats with 43 Republicans

1995-1997  48 Democrats with 52 Republicans

1997-1999  45 Democrats with 55 Republicans


And finally the policy.

The republicans balanced the budget and won welfare reform.

I’d say that the win goes to the republicans.

Government Shutdown of 1995-1996

I wasn’t paying attention back in 1995-1996.  I was managing a jazz club at the time and national politics couldn’t have been further from my mind.

If I could go back in time I might have been able to tell you that the government shut down, but maybe not.  It certainly didn’t impact my life one iota.

Come to think of it, that simple fact, that I wasn’t impacted in the least, speaks volumes to the import of most of what the Federal Government has become.

I digress.

As it turns out there are some similar themes between then and now:

The United States federal government shutdown of 1995 and 1996 was the result of a conflict between Democratic President Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress

A majority of Congress members and the House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, had promised to slow the rate of government spending; however, this conflicted with the president’s objectives for education, the environment, Medicare, and public health.

Congress had passed a continuing resolution for funding and a bill for debt limit extension, each of which was vetoed by Clinton,who denounced them as “backdoor efforts” to make cuts.

And then this:

The government shutdown took place in two phases. The first lasted five days in November 1995, until the White House agreed to congressional demands to balance the budget within seven years. But talks on implementing that agreement failed, and the second shutdown lasted 21 days, from Dec. 15, 1995 to Jan. 6. 1996. (Then a blizzard struck Washington and local federal workers could not get back to work for days after that.)

The sticking point was the GOP demand that Clinton agree to their version of a balanced budget. In months of negotiations, Clinton had actually given a far amount of ground, infuriating Democrats on the left. He agreed to a balanced budget over seven years, to tax cuts, to changes in mandatory spending programs such as Medicare. But the two sides were remained far apart on the pace of spending cuts — and even further apart on the policies behind those cuts.

Two things seem clear:

  1. It was Clinton who shut the government down the first time until finally agreeing to Republican demands.
  2. History is too kind to President Clinton.  He most certainly did not balance the budget.  That honor falls to the Republican held House of Representatives.

We’re seeing the same thing here.

We have a Democrat spender who wants to not only ignore cutting spending but wants to INCREASE spending.  Add to that his incessant “Class Warfare” and you have the perfect villain.  The set up is pretty close.

Then, as now, it’s the conservative movement that is driving the government to a balanced budget.  It’s conservatives who are holding the line on spending and insisting on cuts.  It’s the democrats who are refusing to give in.

The difference?  Boehner.  He was there in ’95.  He saw the mistakes Newt made:

  1. Seeming to relish the idea of a shutdown
  2. Allowing himself to be caricatured as a crybaby

The result is that you have a Republican caucus that knows it’s values are supported by America.  They know how the Democrats are going to act and they know that a government shutdown will force those Democrats back to the table.  And America will support the will of the conservatives.

They did in 1995 and 1996.

They did in Minnesota.

They will again in 2011.

The lesson is this:  When the Democrats come back and agree to your deal; TAKE IT!