The Campaign Spot

How Can You Reach a Deal if Only One Side Has Incentive to Prevent a Shutdown?

Who wants to shut down the federal government?

Let us turn to the question of “cui bono” — who benefits. There seems to be a bipartisan agreement on this aspect.

Let us start with a former head of the DNC:

Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, sees an upside to a looming government shutdown — at least politically.

“If I was head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for it,” said Dean, speaking on a National Journal Insider’s Conference panel Tuesday morning. “I know who’s going to get blamed — we’ve been down this road before.”

Chris Matthews:

The president looks cool as a cucumber, like, ‘I can’t wait for this fight.’. . . It just seems like the president is in a happy-go-lucky mood.

Howard Fineman:

One of the things that make the president confident is that there’s videotape of the Tea Party people saying, “cut it or shut it.” In other words, if there’s a shutdown, the president’s going to be able to say that the Republican leadership was forced into this by their Tea Party constituents and they’re going to show the videotape, and the videotape is going to be, “we the Tea Party can’t wait for a shutdown.”

Michael Takiff, Bill Clinton biographer and contributor, Huffington Post:

When the Republicans refused to pass another temporary spending bill (a “continuing resolution”), the government shut down. As citizens watched B-roll footage of unsent Social Security checks and padlocked national parks, they blamed the mess on Gingrich and his band of House flamethrowers. As Clinton & Co. sought reelection the following year they tied the unpopular speaker around the neck of the GOP nominee, Bob Dole, and the president cruised to victory. Piece of cake — just as it can be now for Barack Obama.

Even House Speaker John Boehner has told his Republican colleagues that if the government shuts down, the Democrats are the most likely political beneficiaries.

So when everyone agrees that one side has every motive in the world to prevent it, and one side has every motive in the world to ensure a shutdown occurs, why should we believe that the predicted beneficiaries are really making an effort to avoid a shutdown? And why should we believe the accusations that Republicans are digging in their heels, ensuring a shutdown occurs?

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