A fiery group of House Republicans doesn’t seem to mind the prospect of shutting down the federal government in the name of cutting spending. They firmly believe the public is on their side, according to Politico:
It all adds up to this: Republicans have less to fear from a government shutdown now than they did when they endured the blame 15 years ago — at least that’s the thinking in some GOP circles.
“The context is dramatically different,” said former Rep. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.), who was one of Gingrich’s top lieutenants. “We didn’t run on an agenda of the kind of fiscal reform that the Republicans talked about last November. I don’t think anybody is surprised or taken aback by the fiscal agenda that congressional Republicans have pursued.”
That’s the sort of overreach that is bound to get an energized majority in trouble. The voters did not elect them to shut down the government. No matter how much anti-government rhetoric voters use, they will be furious if they don’t get their Social Security checks, can’t get an emergency passport or have to cancel a long-planned trip to a national park. (Most folks forget those are the functions of a government they claim to despise.)
Besides, shutting down the federal government ends up costing the taxpayers millions of dollars a day, if the experience of 1995 is any guide. (Given inflation, it would probably cost a bit more now than it did then.)
The Office of Management and Budget estimated early in 1996 that the first of two government shutdowns – for six days in November 1995 – cost taxpayers an estimated $100 million per day. The final price tag for that closing and the record three-week shutdown later that year – including back pay to workers who did not go to work over that time: Over $1.25 billion.
Other shutdowns have been costly too. According to the Government Accountability Office, a funding gap of just three days in 1991 rang up a $607 million bill, including $363 million in lost revenue and fees.
That includes back pay to government workers (those lost days were not pre-planned furloughs designed to close a budget gap) and fees that were uncollected.
Then, there’s the ancillary damage:
There are also major potential trickle-down effects for the nation’s economy.
Shortly after the three-week shutdown in 1995, the Interior Department concluded that the shuttering of national parks had cost related businesses and nearby local governments almost $300 million. A study conducted by the by National Parks and Conservation Association found that – even a year after the budget standoff – small businesses were still suffering from a lingering decline in tourism, especially by foreign visitors.
Contractors also suffered during the mid-1990s shutdowns. According to a survey conducted at the time by Signet Banking Corp., a third of federal contractors furloughed some of their own employees in January 1996. Many of those workers never received checks from their private-sector employers to make up for time lost.
So this gives House Republicans a chance to show whether they care more about cutting spending or delivering what they think is a sharp backhand to the president.