April 8, 2011 Dylan Ratigan

Political shenanigans stay the same

A Dylan Ratigan Show panel, which includes Ron Brownstein of the National Journal Group, talks about the current budget battle and the 1995 government shutdown.



>>> who was there for the ’95 shutdown. before we get into the analysis, what are the odds you even lay on this happening?

>> it really feels like the people at the top of the pyramid on both sides don’t want it to happen. they don’t always control ? events. i think most people in the newsroom around me would bet they find a way to avoid this, because both sides are so uncertain about who would ultimately pay the political price. sometimes events get out of control. that could — that is a very real possibility in these last hours.

>> how would that play out? the out-of-controlness?

>> it would basically be if john boehner– any deal that is acceptable to harry reid and president obama can’t be sold by john bane tore his caucus. that would be the dynamic that would lead you to a shutdown. i don’t know if that’s going to happen. that still seems to be very much a real possibility.

>> chrystia?

>> is this a fight between boehner and his caucus? is that what’s going on here?

>> no. john boehner is not jacob javits. he’s not some secret rockefeller republican trying to give away the store. he is someone who lived through the ’95-’96 experience who is very leery of going through that again because it was an absolute turning point in the confrontation between president clinton and the republican congress. i think he very much wants to avoid reprising that. having said that, there are powerful centrifugal forces in this republican caucus t. new members don’t believe they were sent here to compromise president obama. they came by and large from districts where obama was unpopular, strong correlation, the results in 2010 and the underlying attitudes towards obama in the districts. these new freshmen republicans are not looking i think going out of their way to find ways to be conciliatory. there may be — the bridge may be too far to close between those two sides even if the people at the top basically believe a shutdown is simply too dangerous to entertain.

>> ron, it’s toure, first of all, the suit looks great. wantd to get that out of the way.

>> thank you.

>> ?seriously, what is the long —

>> glad i passed those new york standards.

>> but is it designer, ron?

>> yes.

>> “project runway?”

>> he’s like i came here to talk about welfare reform and capital gains taxes. go ahead toure.

>> if the shutdown happens, what is the long-term political fallout for obama that you see? is this going to be an issue that comes up in the campaign and becomes a problem from there?

>> i don’t think either side knows exactly how this plays out. there’s no question the last time it happened, it was the absolute turning point in bill clinton’s presidency. he essentially was on the defensive from the spring of 1994 through the fall of 1995. of course, the republican landslide occurred in ’94. in the spring of ’95 he was reduced to declaring that the president was still relevant. newt gingrich was portraying himself as a prime minister. during the second government shutdown in the winter of ’95-’96, clinton’s approval rating went back over 50% for the first time since probably late in ’93. he also went past bob dole in the gallup poll during the second shutdown. the ’96 campaign from my perspective having covered it closely essentially ended during that second government shutdown. no guarantee that history will repeat itself. as someone said, often it rhymes. i think republicans are very leery of getting themselves in a situation where the president as a single voice with the pulpit usually has the upper hand. there’s one big difference between this period and ‘295-’96 period. when clinton got in the shutdown, he established the predicate that he was for balancing the budget and put out a program to do that. he was basically able to argue, the question was not whether, but how to move toward more fiscal responsibility. i don’t think obama has established that predicate nearly as well. pew poll out ?yesterday, voters still prefer republicans on handling the budget. a little more risk for the white house as well which is why they may not also be so enthusiastic about leaping off the precipice.

>>> gingrich had to deal with a lot of misgivings with his own people in the caucus. do you see anything like that developing for boehner? is there anyone people have in mind that would create a challenge if he has a perception problem that he didn’t go far enough in challenging obama?

>> eric cantor has turned a lot of heads with a lot of his remarks, seeming to outflank him from the right. the dynamic in ’59-‘9 ‘6 was more complicated. bop dole was the front-runner was very leery of the strategy from the beginning. he was also very unwilling to cross or seem to kind of pull away from the house republicans because he had phil graham looming on his right ready to pounce on him for nir sign of being weak kneed or giving away the store. he swallowed his resignations until in the second shutdown he said, enough, they’re inflicting too much costs on ourselves and the name of ideological purity. it’s not clear who is playing that role now. if it’s anyone, it’s probably boehner himself in the closest thing to the bob dole role. boehner wants to push this pretty far, too. i think he’s more cautious having live through it as is mcconnell of replicating the experience of ’95 and taking the risk it will play out in the same way then.

>> isn’t it nice having these specialists? i just love it. ron, thank you so much for teaching me and us and giving us a way to look at this. thanks to the three of you for being the best panel of the week and for being a panel that was happy to work with me and i enjoy working with. thank you, guys, have a

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