The threat of a government shutdown has loomed large since the beginning of the year when the GOP retook the house with a freshman class heavy on Tea Party-backed members. Many of them stumped for office with promises of deep cuts to programs supported by Democrats, with a special focus on de-funding Health Care reform. A compromise between the two parties resulted in the current stop-gap budget, reportedly angering those on the rightward fringes of the political spectrum. Four billion dollars will be cut from programs that the Obama administration had already tagged for reductions or elimination. There is a budget proposal from the GOP-controlled House on the table, but Senate Democrats are refusing to pass it. That historic budget passed through the House last month. The proposal requires $61 billion in cuts, including the total elimination of Federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Planned Parenthood health clinics. Economic analysis has shown that the controversial budget isolated cuts to domestic discretionary spending, which comprises less than one-fifth of the total Federal budget. Both parties have now been invited to the White House where Vice President Joe Biden will attempt to mediate a compromise that will fund the government through the fiscal year, ending in September. In 1995 Republicans led by then Speaker of House Newt Gingrich forced a government shutdown twice for short periods from mid-November 1995 through early ’96. The Republicans suffered for their actions when public opinion deemed the extreme measure unnecessary. Yesterday a Quinnipiac poll found that Americans were almost evenly divided over the prospect of another government shutdown. Forty-six percent of registered voters polled said a shut-down would be a good thing, and 44% said it would be bad.
GUEST: Chuck Collins, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good. He is co-author of “The Moral Measure of the Economy” and with Bill Gates Sr. of “Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes.”