Tea party favorite Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Il) thinks that a government shutdown could be just what this country needs.
“This is the most serious financial situation I think we’ve had,” Walsh told CBS News’ Nancy Cordes Tuesday. “And so if we need a jolt, if we need the government shutdown for a few days for us to really get serious, I think the American people are with that.”
Walsh said he regularly holds town hall meetings where a majority of the people support a shut down.
“I typically, near the middle or the end of the town hall, will pose a question. If I face a vote in a week in a half where I can fund the government for the rest of the year and barely get some more spending cuts or shut down government, what do you want me to do?”
“And I got to tell you, in my district, 99 percent of the people raise their hands and say ‘shut it down,'” he explained.
“Is that a function of who’s coming to your town hall?” Cordes asked.
“I firmly believe when it comes to this issue people back home are miles ahead of politicians… I don’t think this notion of a shutdown scares them,” he said.
If recent polls are any indication, Walsh may be misreading his constituency.
Seventy-seven percent recently told Bloomberg that Republicans and Democrats should reach a compromise on a plan to curb federal spending and keep the government running.
Another recent CNN poll found that nearly half of Americans viewed the tea party unfavorably, up 21 points since January 2010.
On a conference call with reporters, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thomas Carper (D-DE) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) took turns excoriating Boehner for what they depicted as the House GOP leadership’s capitulation to the 87 House freshmen threatening to scuttle any deal with insufficiently high spending cuts.
“Our problem is that we see now that Speaker Boehner is yielding to the extremes of his party, basically saying he’s not going to negotiate, take it or leave it,” Cardin said, insisting that Democrats were eager to compromise and cede ground to reach a deal.
“The anchor around the neck of these negotiations is a relatively small, extreme group of ideologues on the Republican side,” Blumenthal added. “They are an anchor that needs to be cut loose. Only Speaker Boehner can do it, and he needs to do it now, otherwise we will have a shutdown. The ball is in his court.”
This video is from CBS News, broadcast March, 29, 2011.
— With an earlier report by Sahil Kapur