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Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 in Politics | 0 comments

Would a Government Shutdown Risk the GOP’s House Majority?

High drama continues in the looming government shut down. Wire and broadcast news reports say government workers are being told to prepare for a government shut down. Each side is blaming the other although even a Martian landing in Washington would have to conclude: the Republicans are steadily moving the goalposts when they have “won” their initial cut demands.

An MSNBC poll not yet out has been discussed in general terms on MSNBC today: it shows the public would blame all sides but Congressional Republicans would take the biggest hit. Former DNC Chair Howard Dean flatly predicted on Chuck Todd’s show this morning that a shutdown could mean the GOP would lose the House and probably also gift the Senate to them if the government shuts down — particularly after what he calls an “awful week’ for the GOP:

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MSNBC’s First Read (REQUIRED READING for political junkies) underscores the danger to GOPers:

From NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** The importance of quitting while you’re ahead
… : If congressional Republicans should have learned any lesson from the budget showdown in Wisconsin, it was this: quit while you’re ahead. Despite being offered concession after concession on the budget — as long as he didn’t touch collective-bargaining rights for public employees — Gov. Scott Walker (R) went big for everything, including the collective bargaining rights. And he’s since paid a steep political price, even though the legislation ultimately passed. Walker’s poll numbers have plummeted. The legislation is now locked up in the courts. The Democratic opposition remains fired up (see last night’s elections in the state; more on them below). And the state appears headed for a slew of recall elections this spring and summer. The political lesson from Wisconsin: If you’re offered 70%-80% of what you want and will look like a hero in accepting the deal, take it. But if you go for everything, be prepared for the backlash.

Is this indeed the conclusion reached by GOP bigwigs who don’t want to follow the strategy demanded by Tea Party members or by talk show hosts who talk about needing to reduce entitlements to the poor before they hop onto their costly private jets? Perhaps:

As talks continue on an eleventh-hour budget deal that could forestall a government shutdown, House Republican members have been given guidance to stick around this weekend rather than leave Washington for their home districts, a House aide tells NBC News.

The instructions mean that House leaders could be planning for a weekend session of Congress to pass some form of compromise legislation to keep a potential government shutdown from spilling into the work week next Monday.

But, while House and Senate aides say that talks are still ongoing, a concrete plan to avoid a shutdown is far from in place. The administration and congressional leaders scuttled a potential White House meeting this morning until after further negotiations.
The president, who is traveling to Philadelphia and New York today, may call congressional leaders back to the White House late tonight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told NBC News.

The most significant things going on here:

  • A shutdown will have real impact on lives. The media will be ready to do “plight stories” if people’s lives are impacted…people who don’t get their needed paychecks..people who suffer consequences due to the shut down.
  • A shut down would come amid the backdrop of media coverage of Rep. Paul Ryan’s prosed budget that in effect would dismantle Medicare (a program that has enjoyed bipartisan support and is dear indeed to seniors) and coverage of the races in Wisconsin that Republicans should have won (it looks as if they will lose one and tie or slightly win the other). Not good “optics.”
  • If there are any Republican politicos or talk show hosts cheering on a shut down after it occurs these comments would get widespread coverage. Not a good way to attract independent voters who are tired of partisan fun and games amid huge problems. And independent voters have started to stray from the GOP since they won them back in the 2010 elections. Barack Obama is moving heaven and earth and upsetting his party’s base in his effort to woo them. And polls show he has started to have some success.
  • The long term benefit would go to the players who seem the most “adult.”
  • According to The Politico, Boehner warned his fellow GOPers that if there is a government shut down the Democrats could win it.
  • NOTE TO REPUBLICANS: If John Boehner complains about not being seated on Air Force One after a shut down, watch out.