Government shutdown: How might this time be different from 1995?
Democrats and Republicans are facing a government shutdown deadline of April 8. Although Republicans were penalized in public opinion during a 1995 government shutdown, this time it's less clear how a blame game would play out.
(Page 2 of 2)
"The last thing we need is a disruption that's caused by a government shutdown," Mr. Obama told reporters Tuesday.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
What the public expects of him and Republicans, Obama said, is "that we act like grownups ... that everybody gives a little bit, compromises a little bit, in order to do the people's business."
Obama said Democrats had agreed to a Republican target – $32 billion in spending cuts – and that now Republicans are quibbling over whether the cuts are the right ones.
Americans: compromise, please
In recent polls Americans show a preference for compromise on spending. About 36 percent of US adults said politicians should "stand by their principles," even if that means a shutdown occurs, while 55 percent favored "compromise, even if that means they pass a budget you disagree with."
Similarly, in a March CBS News poll, 81 percent of Americans said politicians should compromise on spending, and 13 percent said they should stick to their positions.
A Monitor/TIPP Poll from March showed more support for each party entrenching itself: While 41 percent of respondents want Congress to avoid a shutdown at all costs, 28 percent would back Republicans in a shutdown and 23 percent would back Democrats.
Either party faces risks if it ends up looking unwilling to strike a deal.
On that score, Republicans may be more at risk. A March ABC News/Washington Post poll found 71 percent of Americans see the Republican Party as not willing to compromise enough in handling the budget deficit, while 52 percent see Obama as not willing to compromise enough.
Who politicians are listening to
Of course, politicians aren't just trying to please the general public with each decision they make. They have many goals, principles, and constituencies in mind – including the core base of supporters within their own parties.
Republicans are hammering a simple theme: Spending levels in Washington are unsustainable, and reductions will help revive American confidence and create jobs.
"We want the largest spending cuts that are possible," Boehner said Tuesday before heading into an afternoon bargaining session with Senator Reid. He accused Senate Democrats of offering spending cuts based on "smoke and mirrors."
The recent ABC News poll found that more Americans trust Obama than congressional Republicans when it comes to handling the economy and deficits. But Obama has slipped, with the percentage of Americans expressing trust in him on those issues below 50 percent since 2009.
Although the shutdown debate is just one skirmish in a larger fiscal-policy conflict, any resulting shift in public opinion could have wider implications – helping to set the table for future budget debates and for 2012 election strategies.
At the end of September, a new budget year begins. On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin released a House Republican budget proposal for the next fiscal year, a plan that emphasizes spending cuts including an overhaul of Medicare.