Which party loses in a shutdown?

Both parties are playing brinksmanship. Both are also trying to blame the other. Who will the voters blame?

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D) of Nevada walk out to speak to reporters after their meeting at the White House Wednesday with President Obama regarding the budget and possible government shutdown.

Both parties are going down to the wire over a continuing resolution that would prevent a government shutdown. No one wants the worst to happen. Most government services would stop. Federal employees would be sent home. Service members would not receive paychecks. And there would be political fallout. Political operatives are trying mightily to pin the blame on the rival party.

Would one party be hurt more than the other? Veteran political analyst Charlie Cook of the National Journal says he is hearing concern among Republican strategists that the GOP could get the blame. Independent voters, Mr. Cook points out, favored Republican candidates in 2010 not so much over budget issues but as a way of tempering the power of the Democrats, who controlled the White House and both houses of Congress at the time.

If an 11th-hour deal averts a shutdown -- or if a shutdown is short-lived while a deal is hammered out -- voters may be forgiving. But clearly the public is not amused. As Thomas Fiedler of Boston University told Politico.com, "The public will see a shutdown as yet another example of kindergartenish behavior by both sides in this divided government."

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