In 1995, the federal government shut down because President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress were not able to agree on a budget. With the Republicans set to take back over the House in 2011, history could be repeating itself.
Eric Cantor, the number two Republican in the House, refused to take a federal government shutdown off the table Sunday and said that President Barack Obama shares responsibility in running the government.
“The chief executive, the president, is as responsible as any in terms of running this government,” Cantor told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “The president has a responsibility, as much or more so than Congress, to make sure that we are continuing to function in a way that the people want.”
A “shutdown” occurs when Congress fails to appropriate money to fund the federal agencies. As a result, nearly every federal employee is sent home, including the officials who cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid checks. In other words, by threatening a shutdown, Cantor is holding the incomes of millions of American seniors hostage unless Obama complies with his petty demands.
After Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) engaged in a game of chicken with Clinton. The president refused to approve a budget with deep cuts and Gingrich refused raise the debt ceiling. During times of deficit spending, the debt ceiling must be raised to keep the government from going into default.
The standoff resulted in the federal government being shut down from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996. The public decided that Republicans had overplayed their hand and Clinton enjoyed his highest approval ratings since being elected.
This video is from Fox’s Fox News Sunday, broadcast Nov. 7, 2010.