Gingrich to Republicans: Shutdown can be good
February 25th, 2011
02:06 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich to Republicans: Shutdown can be good

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.

Filed under: Newt Gingrich
soundoff (53 Responses)

    What else would this dork say? Why did he slink away dishonored ?

    February 25, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Patty

    Republican ideas: government shutdowns are good, deficits are no big deal, fake WMDs are OK and good for starting wars, wiretapping the opposition is OK, selling guns to Contras is OK, war is good business, etc. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

    February 25, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Clwyd

    Just keep listening to Newt! the last time he and you pulled this you were voted out of office! I sure hope you stick by your wacko principles and right out of office!

    February 25, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. thomas

    This is a guy who shafted two of his ex wife's with scorn .
    Newt only has a memory of self-serving motives , a hypocrite who rewrites history with his head up his behind !!

    February 25, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. Frank R

    Newt taking credit for Clinton's successes. What a joke. Maybe the shutdown was good for him, but what about federal employees who probably weren't getting paid. Newt sounds paranoid like Palin, blaming the 'elite liberal medial' for misrepresenting them and their intentions. Always whining and blaming the media for the stupid words/ideas that come out of their mouths

    February 25, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Darth Vadik, CA

    Because it worked so well the first time...
    This goes to show the stupidity of Republicans...

    ...if something is not working you just keep at it until they kick you out as a House Majority Leader....

    ....something Gingrich should be familiar with too, but too stupid to comprehend.

    February 25, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. Robert - Atlanta

    Gingrich said a shut down could be good? Last time his shutdown cost him and the republicans their jobs and got Bill Clinton reelected. It was good for those of us who are not insane, but not so good for republicans!

    February 25, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Name king

    You know what I believe gingrige I don't think there is nothing the repugs can do to make the American people drag them, they might get upset for a littl while but they will get over it. Look what the repugs did the last two years, virtually nothing but saying no, and the people virtually distroyed the democratic party and send the repugs back to the congress. While the repugs can drum up fare and intolerance they feel that they can do any thing to the American people, while there is a lot of time left to the election, for them to spin their intolerance, lying spree, and fear mongering -and capture the American votes. Thats why they don't care, because they know the American people's memory is lie a Ginger fly.

    February 25, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Thank Newt, now go back to your nap!

    February 25, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. Pretzel Logic

    "Republicans ultimately compromised with a newly-energized Clinton after the public backlash suggested the GOP was taking a huge political hit." And if they proceed in this tactic again, history will repeat itself.

    February 25, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. DemoCommunists for a Better Way - Bankruptcy

    Thank God we now have Fox News to accurately report what is going on!!!!!!!!!!! The monopoly of the leftwing news media in this country HAS BEEN BROKEN. The TRUTH will now be reported: The DemoCommunistas want to bankrupt this country and will stop at nothing to get it done.

    February 25, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. Jilli

    Yeah, it worked out so well for the republicans the last time.

    February 25, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. kevin

    Eye of Newt, You really believe that the government showdown was good than please shutdown the government again. Why, Why do reThugliCan't GOBPers Purtid Tea Bags hate America.

    February 25, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When did the media shutdown Government? Newt is a piece of garbage and a liar and distorting the truth.

    February 25, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. Tom Robb

    MOre evidence that the GOP cares less about America than they do about their agenda.

    February 25, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Anthony

    He is right. Democrats won the 1996 presidential election, and Gingrich was forced to resign as speaker after Republicans lost House seats in 1996 and 1998.

    February 25, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  17. Tony in Maine

    Yes – that's true Newtie. It wasn't all bad. It was the beginning of the end for you.

    February 25, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. Bill

    Gingrich is a buffoon and will never be president. And yes, it was a good thing – – it helped get Bill Clinton re-elected.

    February 25, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  19. Kenny

    Won't hurt my feelings if the Federal government shuts down. Hell, I'll go get a six pack and celebrate!

    February 25, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. Newt the Hippo-crite

    Cut your own salary Newt for doing NOTHING and your own healthcare benefits paid for by the AMERICAN taxpayer!

    February 25, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. Shirona from NY

    NOT Gingrich is just another angry rich white man who wants to take away what is MINE. This time he's doing it by shutting down the Government.

    February 25, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Ty

    The Rep.....always playing games....i am sick of them......Newt Gingrich is so wrong t he can't be right. He is to old and need to go home and play with his grand children. They don;t care about the American people and once people starts seeing this, it will get better. Wake Up US.

    February 25, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. Four and The Door

    We sent the Republicans to Washington in November with a mandate to get the Federal Budget in control. It is predictable that the Democrats are fighting the success of that mandate. What they should realize though, is that this makes them clearly a part of the problem, not the solution. American voters have figured out they have the power to solve problems.

    February 25, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. Jack

    How memory deludes and distorts. The shutdown in the nineties was a disaster for many Americans. It ended up being a disaster for the GOP. They lost control of Congress. AND it was Clinton who balanced the budget, not the GOP AND it was Clinton who left a surplus for Bush, which he and the GOP squandered on two wars ( one unnecessary) and no taxes to pay for them.

    February 25, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. Randy, San Francisco

    Gingrich has the same foot in the mouth disease as Palin, Bachmann, and Pawlenty. He should just shut up an fade silently away. A shut down of government is never a good thing, a failure of our political system.

    February 25, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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