Washington (CNN) – Newt Gingrich, the potential presidential candidate who is intimately familiar with the last government shutdown 16 years ago, says queasy Republicans afraid of the political ramifications of history repeating itself need to cool down.
After all, Gingrich says, the effects of the last government shutdown weren't all that bad.
"Those who claim that the shutdown was politically disastrous for Republicans ignore the fact that our House seat losses in 1996 were in the single digits," Gingrich writes in a Washington Post editorial to be published Sunday. "Moreover, it was the first time in 68 years that Republicans were reelected to a House majority – and the first time that had ever happened with a Democrat winning the presidency."
Gingrich was the House Speaker during the last government shutdown at the end of 1995 – a three-week event that has since been attributed to rocketing President Bill Clinton back into political favor among the electorate after a bruising midterm election defeat for the Democrats in 1994. It's also credited with putting initial chinks in Gingrich's armor and beginning a steady decline that led to his 1999 resignation.
With an eye toward those events, House Republicans have repeatedly said they are trying to avoid another shutdown at all costs, in hopes of nixing Democrats' efforts to paint the GOP as needlessly confrontational.
But Gingrich, who could make an announcement within the next two weeks on whether he'll form a presidential exploratory committee, says the last government shutdown's bad reputation is due to inaccurate media reports about the GOP's true intentions.
"Our attempt to balance the federal budget was distorted in the news media as an effort to ruin family vacations, frustrate visitors to the nation's capital and prevent government employees from going to work. For the Republican leadership, the effort to hold together the House and Senate caucuses while negotiating with the White House became extraordinarily exhausting," he writes.
The 1995 shutdown actually happened twice – first for five days in November of 1995 and then for three weeks between mid December to early January of 1996. Republicans ultimately compromised with a newly-energized Clinton after the public backlash suggested the GOP was taking a huge political hit.
But Gingrich writes House Republicans should remember the broader results that came out of the whole affair:
The ultimate result was the first four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s, paying off more than $450 billion in federal debt," he writes. "We also overhauled welfare – the most successful and popular entitlement reform of our lifetime – strengthened Medicare and enacted the first tax cut in 16 years. It was this tax cut that boosted economic growth and allowed us to balance the budget four years earlier than projected."
The government is currently set to shutdown at midnight next Friday if Republicans and Democrats cannot agree to a budget deal.
Well, if the government shuts down, does that mean the politicians won't get paid either? It should!
yep Newtey it sure worked wonders for you and your party back in the 90's didn't it? SILLY RABBIT!!
Newt, I thought you were a history teacher! Don't you remember Santyana's old dictum – Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Here's hoping Cryin' John and Mitch McConnell end up with egg on their faces.
A government shutdown of any kind can not be good for the country.
"Well sure Newk,you have millions to ride out the storm! Hey "no problemo". Gas at $5 a gallon. Might give you some needed time off,go play some golf. It doesn,t get any better than this,huh? Things are going your way bud.
SHUT UP can be good too, and that is exactly what this idiot needs to do. Hell bent or crushing the middle class is Newtys only dream
His amnesia is breathtaking....I remember him looking stressed and panicked addressing the press, then complaining that he had been outmanuvered. He also seems to forget that Clinton cruised to reeelction in "96, and his party then lost seats in '98, the first time in memory that had occurred at that stage of a 2-term presidency. Newt was reduced to irrelevancy after the impeachment and the revelations of his own adultery.
This guy is stuck on stupid!
SHUT DOWN the govt....sure, why not N(ew)UTs!
This coming from a "family values" IDIOT who has admitted to cheating on his first wife with his 2nd wife, then cheated on his 2nd wife with his 3rd wife!!!
It won't be much longer until we the Conservatives of this nation, who number around 48% while liberals/moderates about 23%, will force overpaid Union teachers to fit into private sector payrolls. And all you Liberal welfare takers who sit and blog each day because you don't have to work.....well your check is about to end. Good Luck finding a job.....try becoming a Community Orgainizer, I understand these folks are qualified for anything after 3 years at this job.
There's no way a shut down of the Govenment can be good. You have retirees and disabled people that depend on their monthly checks from the Government. How are people suppose to pay their mortgage and other creditiors? This man is a disgrace to the human race with this type of foolishness that he is talking. The Republicans have done enough damage to this country and if a Government shut down occurs I hope will work against them the next time election cycle.
If at first you don't succeed try, try again huh Newt?
Yeah, cause the shutdown orchestrated by Gingrich in the 90s worked out so well for the Republicans, let's try it again! Only a fool would encourage the use of a tactic that failed so miserably the first time around.
You've got to admire these Republicans, don't you? They're in a hole and they just keep on digging. 2012 is going to be such a blue tide. It will make 2008 look like a swimming pool by comparison.
'Bye Newt! 'Bye Sarah! 'Bye Tea Partiers! Don't let the public disgust drown you on your way out!
Oh please, oh please GOP, please take Newts advice.
Follow Newt off the cliff while $arah plays the flute.
Newt knows what's best for you GOPers. Please listen to him.
"Shutdown can be good"...it will put Republicans out of business for 8 years! That may be a very good thing!
rewriting history to portray republicans as rational and not willing to compromise. Newt the tea party doesnt believe in compromise while america believes in results. The shutdown will happen unless republicans compromise.
He's an idiot. Trying to put a spin on something before it even happens is over the top manipulative, and obscenely transparent.
ya know, the people of this country are really tired of all the 2 yr. old childish bickering between the political parties. Both are after what's good for the party, and both are sacrificing the people of this country in the process. We need to fire all of them, and replace both parties with another option.
its not a real shut down....like a factory... the government will almost not even see a change... there selling fear and doom....
Shorter Newt... when history shows your rear has been kicked, wait a bit and then re-write it.
Newt has never been the sharpest tool in the shed, not to mention being sleazeball for cheating on his wife, who was dying of Cancer..
You Republicabs need help, if you listen to him...
people are smarter now, fool talking, but no fool is listening.
Not so bad for WHOM? For GOPers and their political ambitions as proxy puppets of giant corporate special interests? Sure, might help that a little in the short term with their base, but not so much with anyone who sees through their BS. For the giant corporate special interests dancing the GOP around like a flock of marrionettes? Absolutely...any time they can screw the government up completely and prevent oversight and regulatory enforcement efforts, they're golden. For the hundreds of thousands of government employees and their families who will be told to go home without a paycheck until the GOP is quite finished with its machinations? Not so much. For the economy that will be missing the contributions of those thousands of employees and their families when they have to severely tighten their belts for lack of an entire wage earner's contribution to the household income? Not so much. For the thousands of employees in the private sector who will likely lose their jobs when the economy contracts as a result of hundreds of thousands of government employees being added to the unemployment problem? Not so much. So ask yourself, again, FOR WHOM are the GOP reallyk working? Middle class America or themselves and their largest creditors at the campaign finance favor bank.